Hidden blessings at Mount St Joseph Girls’ College

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28 August 2020

The student leaders and staff at Mount St Joseph Girls’ College, Altona, are embodying the vital spirit of Mary MacKillop and finding new ways to celebrate their charism and story. Danielle Fairthorne, Director of Catholic Identity, reflects on a successful JJAMM Week and Feast Day.

‘Many things that seemed unaccountable crosses have proved indeed to be hidden blessings’ (Mary MacKillop 25 March 1873).

This quote was written by Mary MacKillop at a time of great struggle and challenge for her, during her ex-communication. Mary’s words always give me a sense of comfort and hope. Her deep love and faithfulness in God allowed her to always seek out God’s graces or blessings in even the darkest of times. May we as people of the Resurrection, of hope, always seek out God’s graces in our lives.

This quote also speaks to me of our current experience in remote learning 2.0 and the impact Stage 4 restrictions have had on our MSJ community. The week before our annual Feast Day we were gearing up for an alternate celebration, with excitement and joy building around Feast Day and JJAMM Week. The announcement of Stage 4 restrictions and return to whole-school remote learning was a challenge and disappointment for many. However, as always occurs with our community events at MSJ, God’s graces and blessings could be witnessed across the school even in our remote JJAMM Week.

JJAMM Week celebrates our charism and our story. J – Julian Tenison Woods, J – St Joseph, A – and, MM – Mary MacKillop. It is a highlight of our school year. This year more than ever we were determined to continue this celebration.

On the Monday, we celebrated with PJJAMMa Day and challenged our families to reduce their carbon footprint by turning off lighting and heating. These small actions were a simple way for our school community to remember the deep love and spiritual connection Father Julian Tenison Woods had for nature. On Wednesday, our teachers dressed up for classes online. Dress to Impress Wednesday is a new tradition at the college that invites students to nominate staff to dress up so we can fundraise for the work of local charity Joseph’s Corner. On Friday, we were still able to celebrate the Feast of Mary MacKillop as a community. Staff and students tuned in to a remote liturgy that focused on Mary’s great influence on our lives and the many blessings and moments of gratitude we can find in our lives. Our annual JJAMM donut eating contest still occurred remotely with staff and students grabbing a donut at the shops and sharing this tradition with their families. The week was capped off with MSJ’s Got Talent, with three students successful enough to move forward into a Josephite’s Got Talent competition with other AJASS schools across Australia.

Our student leaders are to be commended on their efforts in leading our school community during this difficult year. Together with staff, they have launched our MSJ Connect website which produces weekly challenges, reflections, sharings and TikToks! The students were determined not to let COVID-19 get in their way of leading our college community. Without them, JJAMM Week and Feast Day would not have been a success.