An Easter reflection

Today people across the world will begin a 4-day long weekend to celebrate Easter. Whether you believe in God or not, Easter is a time designated as a holiday period to allow Christians to commemorate and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

On Holy Thursday (tonight), we reflect on scripture which highlights Jesus’ meeting with his disciples at The Last Supper. He shares bread and wine and as a symbol to remember him with the words “This is my body, and this is my blood – do this in memory of me.” For Christians, this part is sacred as we receive the bread and wine at communion, believing that Jesus is always with us. Another ritual that was symbolic on Holy Thursday is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as a symbolic way to commission us to be of service to others. (The washing of feet used to be a job for servants before a meal in scripture times.) That night Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, and taken prisoner to be tried and tortured.

The next day (Good Friday) Jesus was put before the crowd and sentenced to death by Pilate the Roman Governor. He carried a cross through the streets of Jerusalem and was crucified. At 3 pm in the afternoon we commemorate his death at the Good Friday service. Following his death, Jesus was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the discovery that Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb but that he has risen from death to eternal life. This is a fundamental belief of Christians that after death there is eternal life in Heaven. There is hope, faith and love that ultimately brings us all together after earthly life. Known as the Easter Triduum, these three significant events symbolise our Christian faith.

With this in mind, we can perhaps all reflect on an Easter moment in our lives. About this time last week I was trying to come to grips with what was unfolding at Cardijn regarding a poorly-worded email that ended up on social media and ultimately across television stations and in print media. In all that was happening, it felt like the Holy Thursday experience, a sense of betrayal about comments that had been taken out of context, and a deep sense of disappointment that with a strong record of service, this was all unfolding in an attempt to destroy the reputation of a teacher and a school. On the Friday, we received more unsolicited emails and comments which were not complimentary – the Good Friday experience. On Saturday however, the enormous support from past and current families and old scholars, the Cardijn and wider community and colleagues in Catholic Education was amazing. My Easter moment came while attending the Class of 2010 reunion at a nearby hotel. On my way out, I met a large group of young people who immediately recognised me and voiced their support for the school. Many were old scholars and many others were just local young people who went to different schools. Their vocal support for Cardijn College and the teacher who was vilified by the media was a wonderful example of the Easter moment, the moment when my faith was reaffirmed, I knew that Jesus was always walking with us during this difficult time and God was present in the people I met.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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