Happy Christmas 2021

Welcome to my last blog post for 2021. This year has thrown many challenges to those working in education and the uncertainty of life with a global pandemic continues to surprise us each day. Who would have thought we would be facing a new strain of the virus which is more transmissible with uncertain effects on those who are and are not vaccinated? Who would have thought that we had to implement a government mandate for education workers to be vaccinated in a timeline of just six weeks? It didn’t leave much room for our Christmas preparations. I know that many Australians are looking forward to Christmas and they want to be able to enjoy the presence of family and be connected. There is a level of anxiety that we might be unwittingly caught up as a close contact to someone with COVID, and then need to isolate for a minimum of seven days and miss out on Christmas.

So much has been said and written about Australia being able to celebrate Christmas and for loved ones to be able to travel. We cannot wait for our youngest daughter and her partner to arrive in Adelaide on Christmas Eve. We have not seen them since May this year. We do not want to jeopardize anything, so we are staying away from mass gatherings and only going to public places as we need to. It is a matter of caution, necessity and not putting anything at risk for Christmas.

So why is Christmas so important to us? When I think of Christmas, I remember vividly my younger days as a child. I remember my mother telling us children the story of the birth of Jesus, I have a vivid recollection of our nativity scene and sitting there just gazing at the stable and the crib. I remember Christmas dinner and my mother’s wonderful cooking and of course the inevitable presents which Santa brought along. This was coupled with the fact that I lived in the Netherlands during my younger years, and we would be outside playing in the snow. Yes, I do recollect making a snowman and dressing him up and using a carrot for a nose. I remember the snowball fights, laughter, and happiness. Today I reflect on the amazing years with our own children and being together with family. I dearly miss loved ones who have passed away such as my parents, my parents-in-law and other close family members. I remember my mother-in-law Pat, who would thrive at Christmas, she would spend hours getting food and presents ready, setting up the dinner table and buying food she couldn’t really afford. But it was Christmas and she wanted to see everyone happy.

This amazing event of Christmas which universally celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, symbolises God’s deep love for all people, to bring us together in hope, joy and happiness. Expressed through the birth of a child, innocent and vulnerable but deeply loved by a mother and father. This is family coming together, it is what nourishes our soul and gives us meaning despite any challenges we might face including COVID.

At Cardijn College, we have a huge family, with over 1800 students, 280 staff, 6000 alumni and all the families connected to students and staff. We are very strong and large in our deep commitment to be supportive of one another and proud of our family name. I extend my deepest appreciation to everyone for your amazing support in 2021, your trust in our school, your belief in our endeavour and your support in working together for the very best for each child.

Thank you.

So as we await Christmas Day, I wish everyone the richest blessings for happiness and joy.

That is a wrap for 2021, Happy Christmas!

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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