Living the Touchstones: Gospel Spirituality

As a Catholic school in the tradition of Edmund Rice, our College seeks to inspire our students, families and staff to build a community formed around Gospel Values. Immutable, universal and not specific to any one religion, Gospel Values were modelled by Jesus Christ in his life and teachings – kindness, compassion, respect, service and love – and God knows our world needs more of these.

At the core of our College mission are the Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) 'Touchstones', that capture the character and culture of our school and challenge our community to be faithful to this ethos. They are living and breathing methods that can inspire each and every one of us to become our higher selves, to build a better world, to make sure the heinous crimes of abuse and terrorism and discrimination and injustice that have been highlighted in the media of late do not happen on our watch. That the boys who become tomorrow's gentlemen under our very eyes are provided with the tools and voice to have the courage and persistence to confront injustice in our society and to strongly represent their beliefs. That our community, a working cog in the bigger picture of Edmund Rice Beyond Borders and the new Catholic church of the people under the stewardship of Pope Francis, seeks to make a stand against any hypocrisy, bigotry, neglect and self-serving power and privilege that has contributed to an imbalance of what is right and what is wrong in our world.

The College takes our calling very seriously, and my role as Vice Principal encompasses the Mission and Identity portfolio, which emphasises the importance of the Touchstones in the development of the young men in our care. We are a school but we are also a community, and we work in partnership with our families to live by our creed and place value upon our beliefs. Sometimes confronting popular beliefs and decrying the mediocrity that is so prevalent in our society can be challenging to some people in our community – and we understand this. Recognising the 'other', seeking to understand people who are not like us and approaching different beliefs and values is what makes us grow and learn and reconsider our actions. It can make us bigger and better people. An inclusive community is not characterised by people who think alike and act alike.

By their very name the EREA Touchstones teach us to be authentic to our mission and the charism of our founder, Edmund Rice. If you don't know much about Edmund Ignatius Rice, I urge you to click here to read about his deep commitment to abolishing the social injustice he saw around him. A clever businessman and a person of deep faith who sought to make the world a better place, Edmund Rice's legacy is captured by the Touchstones: Gospel Spirituality, Justice and Solidarity, Inclusive Community and Liberating Education. Together they are a powerful current that sweeps our students along on the CBC journey towards becoming good young men, the best possible young men they can be.

Fortuitously, there are four Touchstones and four school terms, so this year the College initiated a plan to focus on one Touchstone every term, with Gospel Spirituality being Term 1 and following through with each one until the end of the year. Each Touchstone has been married with the Term that is most applicable with our College activities and the Liturgical calendar, and this way we can really address the nuances of each aspect to further unpack the meaning and develop the understanding of the complex values of each.

Gospel Spirituality asks us to invite all people into the story of Jesus and strive to make his message of compassion, justice and peace a living reality within our community. We have honoured this in many ways in Term 1, including the following activities:

  • College Opening Mass when our entire community celebrates in communion. As Matthew said in the Gospels, "For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them" (Matthew 18:20)
  • Our Year 7 and 12 Retreat Days where our students are challenged to be active members of our faith community and to serve others, just as Jesus did. "Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all" (Mark 9:35)
  • Ash Wednesday Liturgy and the launch of Project Compassion which provides an understanding of the sacrifice Jesus made for us and our responsibility to ensure we support all people at the margins, just like Jesus and Edmund Rice did. "Whoever has two shirts must give one to the man who has none, and whoever has food must share it: (Luke 3:11)
  • Christian Service initiatives including Good Start breakfast serving the students of East Hamilton Hill Primary School. "I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink" (Matthew 25:35)

As your school, as your community, we ask you to have a quiet reflection over your next cup of tea or coffee and wonder how you too can invite the message of Jesus into your lives, and make compassion, justice and peace a living reality in your homes. We would love to hear your stories if you would like to share, and for further information have a look at the links below.

Peace be with you.

Neil Alweyn
Vice Principal – Mission and Identity

>> EREA Touchstones

>> The Story of Edmund Rice