Standing in solidarity

“We are committed ‘to commit to justice and peace for all, grounded in a spirituality of action and reflection that calls us to stand in solidarity with those who are marginalised and the Earth itself.” - EREA Touchstone Justice and Solidarity

At CBC, each term we focus on a different Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) Touchstone that reflects the tone of the majority of events and activities at the College during those hectic 10 weeks. This provides us with tangible opportunities to illustrate the message to our young men, which in turn gives them a deeper understanding of the character and culture of a Catholic education in the Edmund Rice tradition. Term 2 was devoted to the Touchstone of Justice and Solidarity, which is one of the guiding principles that we find particularly resonates with our friendly, welcoming, and compassionate CBC community, and I think is a major trait of our founder, Edmund Rice.

In the late 18th century, Edmund Rice was a man of substance, a reputable Irish businessman with a thriving business on the wharf at Waterford. He was a good man, raised by compassionate and kind parents and devoted to his family and his faith. He spent hours with friends discussing ways to be a better Christian, to be of service to others, particularly the poor people who flocked to the promise of work at the thriving port town only to end up on the streets, and sometimes bound for Botany Bay. Down on the docks he saw it all, and it is recorded that once he could no longer stand the suffering of a young slave boy, and so purchased his freedom from a ship’s captain and sent him to the Presentation Sisters to be educated. The young fellow embarked on a successful career rearing pigs in his new home and when he died was known for his goodness. Good deeds breed good deeds, and Edmund walked in solidarity with impoverished and downtrodden people with an unfaltering dream of justice for all humanity.

Edmund’s plan was to use education as a means to break the cycle of poverty, and there were political and social reasons for this. Ireland was under British rule at the time, Catholics were oppressed and even banned from receiving their own religious education in order to provoke them to convert to the Anglican church, and times were definitely tough.

Edmund’s mission is a story of faith, compassion, heart wrenching challenges and inspiring perseverance as he provided opportunities for people to gain their own honour and dignity through learning, and we find that seed at the very centre of the Touchstone, Justice and Solidarity. We celebrated this in many ways during Term 2, including:

  • Year 10 Retreat /Service day – Our boys showed solidarity with the local community
  • Staff Service Day – Our staff modelled Edmund Rice by volunteering at service providers throughout the metropolitan area
  • CBC Family Mass – A beautiful celebration of the importance of our community coming together, showing solidarity in faith and nourishing our relationships.
  • Year 11 Retreat – Our boys heard some deeply personal experiences of our staff members that illustrated the power of open and honest communication and the ability to learn from mistakes and experiences. The boys responded to the challenge of the ‘Climb”, seeing the face of Jesus in all people, and were called take up their own cross and work for justice in solidarity with others
  • Kiwirrkurra Immersion – A small group of students are about to head out to the most remote community in Australia, putting spirituality into action by with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. The Immersion encourages the boys to work and play alongside the Kiwirrkurra community and walk in solidarity with them
  • NAIDOC Week – Celebrates the Noongar people and honours the history of Whadjuk land that our College is situated on.

It has been such a privilege to see our young men expand their spiritual and emotional horizons when they engage in these opportunities, and I am quite simply blown away by the support we receive from them. Their behaviour, their attitude, their appreciation should make their parents very proud and I thank them wholeheartedly.

Neil Alweyn
Vice Principal – Mission and Identity