Unstoppable Youth

Last week I saw a YouTube video of Pope Francis talking with an audience about his name. He shared his recollection of being in the Sistine Chapel and as the votes were coming in, his close friends spoke softly in his ear and said: “Don’t forget the poor, don’t forget the poor.” It dawned on the Pope that he was going to be elected and that he needed to choose a name for his papacy. In his head, he was thinking of Francis Xavier, Frances de Sales and Francis of Assisi. Our Pope was born with the name Jorge Mario Bergoglio and selected Francis after St Francis of Assisi. Our Pope continues to champion the plight of the poor in our world. Our Catholic church mission is always the preferential option for the poor and to support the sharing of our greater wealth for the greater good.

Our Athon Day and Feast Day across campuses publicly celebrate and work towards our mission to support the poor. Often, we think of the word poor in a negative way and narrow view, but what we are drawn to is of course the great passage of the beatitudes. As a society, we may be poor in wealth, but also in health, in spirit, in circumstance, in being lonely, in grieving and in our identity.

Our school has made a public commitment to support St Vincent de Paul, Centacare, Coolock House, Catherine House, Hutt Street Centre, Canteen, Fred’s Van, St Luke’s Church, Marist Solidarity and Caritas throughout the year. This support includes raising much-needed funds but also curating food hampers, backpacks of love and pot plants as a few examples. Students give freely of their time to make a difference. Next term, a group of Cardijn-Marcellin students will walk 50 km from McLaren Vale to Hutt Street in the CBD to support the homeless and raise much-needed funds for the Hutt Street Centre – a place of hope and opportunity helping people facing homelessness rebuild their lives.

The theme for this year at Cardijn College in our service and mission is “Unstoppable Youth”, and that is exactly what we are witnessing across our campuses. Students taking responsibility and action to make a difference in the lives of many.

As we come to the end of Term 2 2021 with times that continue to be uncertain due to the Coronavirus, let us continue to be grateful for each day and each hour. Whilst the winter days may be dark and cold with rain and wind, the hearts and minds of our unstoppable students and staff are warm and generous.

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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