On the 12th of October 2016, four students along with Mrs Melki and Mrs Becroft were selected to represent St Andrews College at an excursion, "A Day At The Table", at St Patrick's Cathedral in Parramatta. The four students, two from the Senior Campus, Mikie Mouxouris and Alyana Cabral of Year 12 and two from the Junior Campus, Peter Trogrlic and Dana Devine of Year 9. Peter and Dana were invited for the outstanding, high quality of their essays. These essays were written as part of the Social Justice Competition, which all Year 9 students participated in. The Social Justice essay question for 2016 was "What should an Australian 'face of mercy' look like to a refugee arriving in our country?" This statement was launched at the excursion, and all of the schools from the Parramatta Diocese came together to collaborate and share their interpretations on the statement. There were also some special guests that came to help the launch.
The day started when we arrived at the Cathedral at 9.30am. We registered and claimed a table for the day. At 10.00am, a warm welcome and introduction was made by students of different schools. Following this was a student led prayer, and then the awards for the student essay competition were presented. We were very proud to hear that Peter Trogrlic achieved Second Place. He was awarded a certificate and an envelope with his prize. The student that came first was from Marian College, who read her essay to the audience after the awards had been handed out.
At 10.45am Bishop Vincent spoke to the audience about his life experiences and the role he plays in supporting refugees. Bishop Vincent himself was a boat person, so he had experienced all of the morbidities and challenges which asylum seekers face. He spoke about his encounters with Pope Francis, and he explained how the Social Justice statement calls us to apply the works of him. "We should value people less for their contributions and more for what they suffer", he spoke on behalf of all asylum seekers. He was truly inspirational to us as young people, and it definitely made us change our approach when thinking about mercy.
There were two workshops which students and teachers participated in. The first one was centred around the metaphor, "A Place At The Table", a student led discussion. Here we discussed and brainstormed categories of Loneliness, Ageism, Elder Abuse and Isolation. A lot of awareness was raised in regards to what Social Justice is all about. The second workshop was called "Making it Real", which was where we discussed and brainstormed how our schools could take action in regards to helping the elderly fit into the community again. One of our main action plans was to select some students from our College and send them to visit people in the Nursing Home next to our school. We plan to put this into action as soon as we can, as it will be a great experience for students to learn from the wisdom of the elderly, and it will help the elderly learn from the current generation. A guest speaker, Mr Greg Whitby, helped us with these workshops and spoke about the importance of taking action.
At 1.30pm, the day was tied up nicely with the plenary and closing prayer. It was a great experience for us and we certainly walked home a fraction wiser than earlier that morning. I'd like to offer a big congratulations to the students who were selected, for their excellent efforts in their essays. I'd like to especially congratulate Peter Trogrlic, for his outstanding achievement of second place in the Parramatta Diocese Essay Competition.
St Andrews College is blessed to have a high achiever like that. Lastly, a huge thank you to Mrs Melki and Mrs Becroft for hosting our College students - we couldn't have done it without you.
Dana Devine Year 9