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Sunday, May 26, 2024
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New School Prayer for 70th Jubilee

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Fr Peter James Strohmayer, REC Miss Michelle Crescini, Principal Mrs Linda Katrsibras, Sydney Catholic School Education Officer Christopher Neaves, Family Educator Alida Bila and Assistant Principal Helen Vujevic accept the Archbishop’s Charter at the school’s 70th Jubilee Celebrations Mass. Photo: LJ Aulsebrook
Fr Peter James Strohmayer, REC Miss Michelle Crescini, Principal Mrs Linda Katrsibras, Sydney Catholic School Education Officer Christopher Neaves, Family Educator Alida Bila and Assistant Principal Helen Vujevic accept the Archbishop’s Charter at the school’s 70th Jubilee Celebrations Mass. Photo: LJ Aulsebrook

By Laura Jane Aulsebrook

In 1952 Australia was celebrating a newly crowned young Queen, the first express train between Melbourne and Adelaide debuted, a loaf of bread cost the equivalent of 9 cents and a brand new school in Smithfield opened to 80 students in a one room school house run by three nuns.

70 years on and that one room school room has expanded to a four stream Kindergarten to Year Six Primary School with more than 600 students.

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No longer run by nuns, the staff at St Gertrude’s Catholic Primary School Smithfield, still maintain the Catholic ethos and excellence in education that the Sisters of Saint Joseph established all those years ago; whilst the primers, slates and blackboards have given way for iPads, chromebooks and interactive TV’s, handball games and singing at Mass are still a favourite pastime of the students who attend the school!

When celebrating the school’s 70th Jubilee this year, students and staff reflected on the history of the school and the strong community focus that has been at the forefront of St Gertrude’s since the establishment by the Sisters of St Joseph in the 1950s.

“an inclusive, multicultural community has been the core of the school’s identity from the beginning.”

An inclusive, multicultural community has been the core of the school’s identity from the beginning, consistently welcoming migrant families alongside those that return to have their own children educated at St Gertrude’s.

The same is true of today, with a diverse community including newly arrived Australians and families who have had three generations attend the school! In the original school building, which is now the parish chapel, a prayer space was set up, with artefacts to reflect the history of the school.

Students were encouraged to pray for past, present and future students whilst also being amazed at some of the artefacts on display from the school’s 70 year history.

The new school prayer reflects the ethos of the school Photo: LJ Aulsebrook
The new school prayer reflects the ethos of the school Photo: LJ Aulsebrook

A school satchel from the 1950s and a boom box from the 1980s did draw some interesting queries from some of the younger students, in turn making some of the teachers feel a little old!

“Let us remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm and look forward to the future with confidence, for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”

In quoting Pope John Paul II, Principal Linda Katsibras drew attention to the ongoing cycle of Christian faith and the many layers that work together to allow the faith life and education of children grow.

Prior to a whole school picnic and fun activities at a local park, the school community gathered for Mass, on the Feast Day of St Gertrude, co-celebrated by Fr Phillip Zadro, a student in the original class at St Gertrude’s 70 years ago.

When accepting the Archbishop’s Charter at the end of Mass, Principal Linda Katsibras drew attention to the importance of community and the role of the parish, parents and teachers working in communion to allow the school to develop and the students to grow in their education and faith journey.

Students have embraced the new school prayer with enthusiasm. Photo: LJ Aulsebrook
Students have embraced the new school prayer with enthusiasm. Photo: LJ Aulsebrook

In quoting Pope John, she highlighted the eternal nature that is Jesus Christ and how we as Christians can live with faith in the future and a sense of optimism, with gratitude to those that have paved the way before us.

As part of the 70th Jubilee celebrations, St Gertrude’s also debuted the newly composed school prayer to the community.

Created in collaboration with students and staff and in consultation with parish priest Fr Peter James Strohmayer, the new school prayer reflects the school motto of Desire God and Learning that has been at the heart of St Gertrude’s education since the beginning, along with the importance of community, faith and learning, whilst also identifying the petitions of the students through the five senses.

“We wanted to draw attention to the fact that God is present in all that we do,” said the school’s Religious Education Coordinator, Michelle Criscini.

“By drawing attention to the senses, it also made this a tangible reminder for the students.”

Fr Peter James acknowledged that it is our ears that hear God’s Word first, thus placing this as the pre-eminent line of the prayer.

Students have embraced the prayer wholeheartedly and are eager to join in at morning assembly.

“It is a very spiritual feeling to hear all 630 students join in unison to pray the words of our community,” shared Principal Linda Katsibras, “the students take pride in knowing that they may be the first to join in sharing this prayer, but the generations who follow them will continue the tradition.”

Perhaps some of the students today will be at the 100th Jubilee celebrations and share how they were there for the creation of the school prayer, so too may the future generations be just as curious at the iPads of today as the current students were of the artefacts of the past!

“It is a very spiritual feeling to hear all 630 students join in unison to pray the words of our community.”

St Gertrude’s School Prayer

Leader:
Loving God,
Here at St Gertrude’s we gather as one community.
A place of welcome. A place of learning. A place of faith.
Through the intercession of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop
and St Gertrude the Great, we pray;

Whole School:
Bless our ears to hear Your Word,
Raise our voices to proclaim Your Name.
Open our eyes to see Your Creation,
Teach our hands to do Your Work.
Ignite our hearts to love like You,
Inspire our community to welcome all.
Guide our minds to be the best learners we can be,
As we grow in our desire for God and learning.
Amen

Leader:
Mary Help of Christians…Pray for us
Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop…Pray for us
Saint Gertrude the Great…Pray for us

Laura Jane Aulsebrook ia an Amadeus Teacher at St Gertrude’s Catholic Primary School, Smithfield.

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