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Catholic Teacher blog: Life's journeys

Brendan Nicholls  |  24 October 2018

As our Year 12 students leave us this week to study independently and make final preparations for their final exams we become aware that the end of another school year is not far off.

It seems amazing that the weeks have gone past so quickly and that we will soon celebrate the end of the year formally at our Mosaic awards evening. At this time of the year students begin to think about the opportunities they will have next year in new their subjects. Teachers begin to think about what subjects they will teach, spend time reflecting upon the year past and enthusiastically enter into thinking about what improvements they might make next year. Our Year 12 students and families of course are the most excited about the end of the year and the future that is yet to be uncovered.

With this excitement comes varying levels of anxiety or concern about the unknown. There is so much yet to be completed before the future is revealed. For those of us who will return to the College next year we know that although different the following year has a pattern that is known and safe. Our senior students are stepping out into the unknown. Everything will change. All that they hope for is yet to be achieved as the final weeks are vital if those goals are to be realised.

As a Jesuit Companion School or an ‘Ignatian College’ we would do well to pause and consider St Francis Xavier moments like this. His life can offer us much to contemplate and apply when change occurs.

Mission to the East

St Francis Xavier was one of St Ignatius’ closest friends and one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits). He was born in 1506, leaving his home to journey to Paris and study when he was 19. By the age of 30 he had earned a Master’s degree in Philosophy. He lectured at the university for number of years and entered into a Theology degree, where he met Ignatius. Although slightly older than Xavier, the two became close friends. He completed the Spiritual Exercises under the spiritual direction of Ignatius and with the other founding members took vows and then was ordained in 1537. The Society was approved in 1540. A year later Xavier left Europe on his mission to the East.

His journey was hazardous and extreme in its vision. Accounts recorded that Xavier willingly entered into his mission with great joy and enthusiasm. Travelling from Rome (Italy) he travelled to Lisbon (Portugal), Maputo (Mozambique), Melindi (Kenya), Socotra (an island off the coast of Somalia) and Goa (India). He then achieved a feat that no other missionary had ever done in entering Japan where he evangelised for two years. He then was able to achieve another first but securing passage and entry into mainland China to spread the Gospel. Sadly, while waiting for transport to the mainland he died of fever in sight of his destination.

Our senior students have much in common with St Francis Xavier at this time. They are about to enter into a busy time where they will embark on a journey where the goal is known but the path and outcome not a guaranteed. Our students know what is required over the final weeks of their secondary schooling. Having confidence in those who have guided them and their own abilities will ensure that they are able to achieve all that is desired.

Seek support

Just as Ignatius mentored Xavier, our students have many people who they are able to gain support from even though they have officially ‘finished’ classes. Being focused and trusting in all that has been learnt is vital now as they journey onwards. Unlike Xavier our students are able to come back whenever required to seek guidance. But generally most will seek to spread their wings and over the coming weeks will seek to rightly trust in themselves.

Francis Xavier was enthusiastic and confident in his abilities, through faith in God. Our students can also aspire to possess these virtues. At the College we hope that they enter into these final weeks with enthusiasm and a level of excitement. Although tension will be experienced during the exam period and the wait for results it’s an exciting time. A positive mind set throughout will guarantee great outcomes. After six years living in our faith community they know our God and are able to trust in him.

When Fr James Puppady spoke to the senior students at final assembly, his pastoral concern was summed up in his final comment about trusting in God. He used four points to emphasise the love of God that is with them always and can be relied upon as they conclude their studies and exams.

He said:
‘Every day God thinks of you’ – Psalms 68: 19.
‘Every hour God looks after you’ – 1 Thessalonians 3: 3.
‘Every minute God cares for you’ – 1 Peter 5:7.
‘Because every second he loves you’ – Jerimiah 31: 3.

Trust in the Lord’s love and protection

Our senior students can place any concerns they have with Our Lord and trust in his love and protection. They will achieve all they hope for. Enthusiasm, courage, joy and faith are virtues that will make this period of their lives positive and fulfilling. All of these virtues can observed in the life of St Francis Xavier and his mission to the East. Inspired by him our senior students may also achieve feats that have never been accomplished before now and in their future lives.

As our Year 12’s complete their secondary school ‘mission’, I encourage you to pray for the intercession of St Francis Xavier who knows well the excitement and tension present at this time. I also hope that you will continue to pray for them after this year ends as the being their next ‘mission’ in service of God and all people – Amare et sevire.

 

Topic tags: vocationsandlifechoices, healthycommunitylife

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