This weekend St Peter’s College hosts the Bishop’s Shield 71st Diocese of Dunedin Catholic Secondary Colleges’ Public Speaking Competition. We have a group of students competing in public speaking events such as debating, prepared speech, impromptu speaking, scripture and drama. Other dioceses throughout New Zealand hold equivalent competitions and many of our school community will remember being part of these in years gone by. I encourage as many of you as possible to support this event during the next two days as the standard of public speaking is of a very high quality and the Shield is always fiercely fought for!
A group of our students took part in the Southland Model United Nations event last weekend. This event was coordinated by Lucy Barron who was Captain of Special Character in 2010. It is always wonderful to hear that our ex-students are continuing to contribute to the wider community in careers such as this where social justice and the Catholic social teachings are at the core. We look forward to hearing more of Lucy’s work when she speaks at assembly this coming Wednesday.
This Friday, 15th August, is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church’s calendar therefore we will have a Mass at school on Friday for our students. Mary is the Patron Saint of New Zealand and we honour her commitment to her faith and the wisdom she had to carry out the will of God.
Last week the Bishops of New Zealand wrote a letter to Pope Francis regarding the terrible conflict in Gaza. Like the Bishops, I know that many of us are frustrated and feeling helpless that as a nation it is very difficult for us to help the innocent people caught in this horrific situation. I have quoted some of this letter below -
“Our sense of helplessness is relieved a little by constant prayer for the cessation of the current conflict and for a resolution of the longstanding issues which underlie it. But we pray in the comfort of a land that really only knows peace, and which is a long way from international conflicts. Knowledge of the appalling suffering in Gaza fills us with a sense of desperation and leads us to ask what else we can do to alleviate the suffering and help bring peace.
We are encouraging our people to support the work of Caritas in Gaza. We are urging them to pray, individually and together, for an end to the fighting and a true and lasting resolution. These are significant steps but still more is needed, and for those of us who live in peace there is an obligation to do everything possible to bring the gift of peace to others.
When you entered the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people by bringing President Mahmoud Abbas and President Shimon Peres together for prayer, it was an inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You stood with the two Presidents in a way that has never been seen before, and you continue to talk with them. We know you will use all the resources of the Holy See and the moral leadership inherent in your role to do everything possible to bring about a cessation of the fighting and true and lasting peace between the Palestinian people and Israel.
We respectfully draw your attention to the request of Father Raed, the parish priest of Holy Family Parish in Gaza who said: “I launch a humble appeal to Pope Francis: may you convene a vigil of prayer and fasting for peace in the Holy Land, as you did for Syria. All the people who inhabit this land, the land of Jesus, are tired of living in fear and pain". This prayer vigil is taking place in the countries close to Gaza, but the magnitude of the disaster is so great, that we ask if the Holy See could make this a global vigil.”
Let us continue to pray that the people of Gaza may soon live in peace.
Nga mihi nui