For most Year 12 students, schoolies means a week on the sunny Gold Coast but for one group of lucky Year 12’s it’s a trip of a lifetime.
Twenty-one of Sydney Catholic School’s high-achieving school leavers are setting off this week on a three week tour, exploring the foundations of Western civilisation in Rome and London.
The pilot program, a joint initiative between Sydney Catholic Schools and Australian Catholic University, will see the students visiting many of the places pivotal in history including the Roman Forum, the Vatican, the Catacombs, Oxford University and London’s Houses of Parliament.
On arrival in Rome, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Richard Umbers will welcome the group with a Mass and dinner at the ACU campus.
The tour group reflects a broad spectrum of students from the Archdiocese including a Sudanese refugee, an Aboriginal student and mentor to younger indigenous students from Sydney’s inner city, a student from a drought-stricken farm in country NSW and one who spends his spare time helping underprivileged children in Africa.
Director of religious education and evangelisation at Sydney Catholic Schools, Anthony Cleary said while the group represents a ‘melting pot’ of backgrounds and career aspirations, they share a genuine enthusiasm for the upcoming program and the opportunities and insights that it may provide.
“The program sparked great interest amongst the Year 12 students and selection was very difficult, we could legitimately have sent many more,” he said.
“There are budding lawyers, doctors, diplomats, psychologists, engineers and writers and of course, there are some who have already mapped out their GAP year – one will teach English as a volunteer in Thailand and another will work in a Jesuit boarding school in Ireland.
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“They all see the School Leavers program as an opportunity of a lifetime. They not only look forward to their experiences in Italy and in England but the opportunity of establishing new friendships.
“The group has already bonded very quickly – with much talk of a ‘Facebook group’ and common blogs.”
Participant Jordyn Brundin from St Patrick College, Sutherland said after reading about the School Leavers program “I can’t believe I’m finishing the HSC and heading over to Rome and London all in the same week, it’s just incredible”.
Jordyn Brundin: I hope this trip deepens my inner journey towards God
“I have experienced a rollercoaster of experiences and challenges in my young life, and for this reason I have found myself leaning towards God, a transcendental support.
This natural inbuilt reaction to call on God has always urged me to know more about Him.
I recall how I was sitting in my Chemistry classroom when I was filtering through my emails. In between notifications of essay submission returns and class work homework reminders, sat an email from Mr Anthony Cleary.
After opening it (hesitantly) and reading the first line, my heart immediately felt full.
It was an incredibly overwhelming sense of emotion, but it only manifests the natural response of being awarded this truly ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ for both myself and the other pilgrims selected.
After reading through the itinerary of the incredible sites and lectures that are scheduled, I had immediately set up a countdown of days until departure.
I believe that in itself goes to show how excited and blessed I truly am.
I was privileged to attend WYD in 2016. The pilgrimage opened my eyes (and heart) and taught me so much about my Catholic Faith and it’s true potential.
In those few weeks of travelling across Italy, Poland and Austria, I realised the extent of diversity that our faith truly is and its potential to further grow not only bigger, but deeper as well.
It was during this time that I was introduced and led by Father Dan McCaughan (Our Lady Star of the Sea, Miranda). His Worship and special delivery propelled my faith within myself as a quiet individual.
Overall, I am certain that such an experience, which I am so overwhelmed to have been provided, will definitely exceed all possible expectations, strengthen and reinforce my spiritual beliefs and deepen a life-long love of learning.
I can’t believe I’m finishing the HSC and heading over to Rome and London all in the same week.
I am truly blessed and look forward to experiencing every moment of the journey.”
– Jordyn Brundin