Queensland’s Catholic Education Week 2023 (23 – 29 July) saw communities in kindergartens, primary schools and colleges that comprise Catholic Education - Diocese of Rockhampton (CEDR), join in statewide celebrations honouring their distinctive mission.
Under the theme Communities of Faith Hope Love, over 20 000 CEDR students, staff and volunteers in regional, rural and remote centres from Mackay to Bundaberg and west to Longreach participated in a range of celebrations including liturgies, award presentations, special assemblies and gatherings, fun activities as well as outreach to the wider community.
It's a time to celebrate what is at the heart of a Catholic school, according to Catholic Education’s Diocesan Director Leesa Jeffcoat.
“In Catholic Education Week we focus on our Catholic identity and the unique role of Catholic schools in their local communities,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
“We reflect on our beliefs and values and seek to deepen our understanding of what it means to be part of the Ministry of Catholic Education within the Catholic Church, and to share that more widely with our parishes and communities,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
“Specifically, we celebrate the religious dimension of a Catholic education where we seek to be true witnesses to Christ’s message of hope and love for the world, to be the face of Jesus to those we meet in our everyday lives,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
“It’s an opportunity to be explicit about who we are, what we believe in, what we hold dear and the way we seek to live our lives.
“It calls us to reach out to those in our parishes and wider communities to say thank you for their support and, inspired by Jesus’ example, to look for opportunities to help others in need through our acts of kindness and social justice,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
This year’s Diocesan Catholic Education Week Mass was celebrated at St Joseph’s Cathedral, Rockhampton, at midday on Thursday 27 July, and was livestreamed to Catholic school communities across the Diocese.
Bishop Michael McCarthy, presided at the Mass which included a special presentation to this year’s Diocesan Recipient of the statewide Spirit of Catholic Education Award, Deputy Principal: Mission at The Cathedral College, Rockhampton, Claire Stitt.
In congratulating Mrs Stitt, Miss Jeffcoat also acknowledged all 31 award nominees from across the Diocese for their outstanding contribution to Catholic Education and for making a real and lasting difference in the lives of students and their families.
“We, in Catholic Education, are abundantly blessed to have such committed and dedicated people in our kindergartens, schools and colleges,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
Acts of Kindness were a real feature of Catholic Education Week with staff and students undertaking creative and meaningful activities in service to others including delivering baked treats to local businesses and community services, connecting with the elderly and those isolated in the community, participating in charity drives such as the Vinnies Winter Appeal and completing simple acts like delivering written affirmations to staff and classmates.
“This was the most anticipated aspect of Catholic Education Week and is loved by all our communities, the opportunity to do something for someone and the sense of joy and happiness that always follows,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
Miss Jeffcoat paid tribute to students, parents, families, teachers, staff members, Board and Parents and Friends members, volunteers, priests and religious, and parish and community members for their great contribution to, and ongoing support for, Catholic Education.
“All are important and cherished members of our Catholic Education family for whom we are most grateful,” Miss Jeffcoat said.