‘Put Christ at the centre of all you do’, Archbishop Costelloe encourages CEWA leaders
CEWA principals and school leadership teams from across the State come together at Christ the King Beaconsfield as part of the 2020 Leaders Forum. The biannual event brings together CEWA principals and school leadership teams from across the State and is ‘on the road’ for the first time in response to COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: Supplied.
By Amanda Murthy and Jamie O’Brien
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has this week spoken about the vital role that leaders hold, especially during this time of crises.
Speaking via Zoom for the Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Leaders Forum Roadshow on Monday 27 July, Archbishop Costelloe commended and encouraged the leaders in their mission to “create a Christ-centred and student focused community of engaged learning environments and to inspire all to actively live the Gospel.”
The biannual event brings together CEWA principals and school leadership teams from across the State and is ‘on the road’ for the first time in response to COVID-19.
Some 500 delegates are joining the semester two Leaders’ Forum Roadshow throughout July and August, with meetings held at host CEWA schools and local venues across all four WA dioceses.
Ten Forum events in total are being held, with the aim of looking at the ongoing development of CEWA’s Quality Catholic Education (QCE) improvement framework through the lenses of teaching and learning during the Coronavirus pandemic, policy and governance, and school improvement.
The first Roadshow stop was held in Kalgoorlie last week, with school leadership staff from the Goldfields and Wheatbelt regions, as well as Esperance, joining CEWA system leaders for a morning of discussion at St Joseph’s School in Boulder.
All CEWA principals were also invited to an online launch meeting for the Roadshow, including a Welcome to Country with Whadjuk-Yuet-Ballardong artist and former CEWA Aboriginal Teaching Assistant Kevin Bynder.
CEWA principals and school leadership teams from across the State come together at St Joseph’s School Boulder as part of the 2020 Leaders Forum. The biannual event brings together CEWA principals and school leadership teams from across the State and is ‘on the road’ for the first time in response to COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: Jesse Roberts/CEWA.
During the speech, Archbishop Costelloe encouraged those present to always uphold the faith, despite obstacles and pressures that may arise.
Quoting the words of Pope Francis from a speech he delivered before the national conference of the Italian church in 2015, Archbishop Costelloe said “We are not living an era of change but a change of era.”
The contribution of parents, families, teachers and school staff, Archbishop Costelloe continued, should always be centred on our Catholic Identity which is sometimes tolerated and at times even resented, in today’s increasingly secular society.
Archbishop Costelloe went on to state that with increased pressure from government, parents and society, despite widespread rejection of our values, there is an expectation of a better standard of leadership and engagement because of our Gospel focus.
“All the above leads to a need for physical, emotional, spiritual self-care and without a solid spiritual foundation, trying to live according to Gospel principles would be exhausting.”
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB speaks at the 2019 Secondary Schools Forum for LifeLink Day in June last year. Archbishop Costelloe has this week spoken about the vital role that leaders hold, especially during this time of crises. Photo: Ron Tan.
Recommitting attendees to their mission as educators and leaders, Archbishop Costelloe encouraged the leaders to continue to put Christ in the centre of all they do, as he posed several questions for reflection.
“We all have a fairly common understanding of the “Student-focused” notion: Student-focused staff, student-focused classroom, student-focused curriculum, but student-focused community, what does this imply? Who is included in a “school community”?” Archbishop Costelloe cited.
“We want to create engaged learning environments where staff are open to ongoing formation and in-servicing, flexibility, responding to the uniqueness of each child and young person.
CEWA Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce speaks at the 2019 Secondary Schools Forum for LifeLink Day in June last year. Dr Sayce has addressed principals and school leadership teams as part of the semester two Leaders’ Forum Roadshow. Photo: Ron Tan.
CEWA Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce also addressed the delegates, saying that she was optimistic the roadshow format would bring a new vibrancy to the Leaders’ Forum.
“There have been challenges, particularly in figuring out the logistics of this format, but I hope that holding a series of local events for the Forum will help us, as Catholic education leaders, to approach these meetings with fresh perspectives,
“As CEWA Principals, you lead communities of learning and faith that are a central feature in the lives of thousands of families across the State... we have an appreciation of our unique purpose and mission – to inspire students, staff and our community to actively live the Gospel through our Christ-centred, child-focussed approach to education,” Dr Sayce said.
In continuing his message, Archbishop Costelloe said it is important we focus on what it means to be Christ-centred, "and to inspire all to live the gospel, by asking ourselves, ‘What would Jesus do?’ in every situation we are faced with."Noting the unfortunate reality that school is often the only or main encounter of many parents, children, families and staff with the Church in today’s world, Archbishop Costelloe urged the leaders to always strive to continue to strengthen the school’s relationships with working their neighbouring parishes and parish priests.
“The Church as the Body of Christ, is a living and effective sign of Christs’ presence in the world and we become a part of that Body of Christ when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist which we celebrate at Mass,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.
“This is an essential part of our Catholic faith and you as leaders in schools, have this amazing opportunity to confirm and strengthen committed Catholics in their faith, support families in their task of placing God at the centre of family life, deepen the commitment of Catholics beyond where they are now in terms of their faith and be credible witnesses to the faith lived out in practise.
“Supporting the priests in their ministries is another way to build and strengthen communication between the parishes and schools,” he added.
Archbishop Costelloe ended his address by commending the work carried out by all leaders across the 166 Catholic schools in WA.
“When we speak to the parents about enrolling their children, it is important to note that while our schools are open to all within the limits of enrolment policies and priorities, families need to understand that the Catholic school is what its name implies,” Archbishop Costelloe noted.
“We seek to provide more than just an affordable private school option, but we provide Christian faith-based values in the experiences and journey that these children will gain.”