After 11 years of serving thousands of families in Fairfield including hundreds of refugees and migrants Patrician Brother Nicholas Harsas is saying goodbye.
Staff and students at Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School farewelled their beloved principal who commences his new appointment leading Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School in Carnes Hill next year.
Students held a fun ‘This is your Life’ assembly on his feast day on 6 December, presenting him with a CD of the school song, photos from the recent 90th anniversary celebration, a book of memories and messages from each grade, plus another book featuring all of his media appearances since he has been the school’s principal.
To help him settle into his new school they also gave him a Holy Spirit school bag and hat, personalised drink bottle, stationery and the canteen menu in case he is ever hungry at his new school.
Earlier at a special Mass Brother Nicholas was presented with the Archbishop’s Dempsey Medal for his years of devoted service to the western Sydney school.
“The staff, students and parents have been so supportive of me as principal,” Brother Nicholas told The Catholic Weekly.
“It’s been a week of mixed emotions, and quite humbling as people have said wonderful things about me and my ministry over the years.
“I’m sad to leave this wonderful school community which has been a very rich blessing for me.
“But I go feeling very confident that the school is in a wonderful place academically and with a strong Catholic identity, because of the staff, students and the whole school and parish community.”
Brother Nicholas said he was also “excited” about taking the helm of another school community “not as a job but as my ministry as a Patrician Brother”.
State Member for Fairfield, Guy Zangari MP, recently paid tribute in the Legislative Assembly to Brother Nicholas’ “unwavering” devotion over many years to the local community and support of students and their families at the school where 98 per cent of the students come from a non-English speaking background, and almost 100 refugee students are currently enrolled.
Religious Education Coordinator Anna Sacca said Our Lady of the Rosary is losing an “inspirational leader, mentor and friend” who set high standards for the staff and students.
“He is always willing to listen to everyone no matter how busy the day gets,” she said.
“Brother Nicholas has been a helping hand to newly arrived refugee families who have joined our school and made them feel welcomed as part of the Our Lady of the Rosary School Community.
“For this and all Brother Nicholas has done, we are truly grateful.
“We feel very lucky to have had him in our lives and he will be truly missed by all.”
In his tribute Mr Zangari said that the many former students who choose to enrol their own children in the school “stands as true testament to his devotion and the impact he has on students’ lives”.
“He remains a ‘brother’ to many as a result of his positive impact on so many lives as an outstanding teacher, distinguished principal, and a source of strength and wellbeing for his community,” he said.
As well as the students’ presentation, followed by an afternoon tea with parents, Brother Nicholas’ farewell events include a parish Mass last weekend, and next week, a whole school Mass and formal assembly.