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Year 9 Reflection Day

The sunshine greeted us as the Year 9 students and their Religious Education teachers headed for a day of thought-provoking ideas and spiritual solace at the beautiful Paulist retreat centre in Wantirna. 

Our first session was presented by Rachel Shields, and her focus was on Indigenous spirituality. Rachel Shields is a Gamilaroi and Weilwan Woman (Ga-mil-uh-roy & Wah-when) from North Western New South Wales. She grew up living in many areas of Australia and spent much time learning about Creation and connection from the Elders. Rachel's spiritual foundation is grounded in her ancient cultural heritage, many refer to this as indigenous spirituality. 

Rachel explained to us that this is simply a sustainable and natural way of being which includes all people, the earth and all living creatures. Among many things, Rachel is a teacher of indigenous knowledge, a counsellor, a singer songwriter, an author and public speaker who enjoys sharing and learning alongside others. 

Rachel said, ‘Creation does not make mistakes. I am not a mistake. I have worth because I exist.’ She challenged us through song, craft and story to reflect on creation, our connection to the earth and to others, and on our journey through life.

Lovett Lahai is from Sierra Leone and shared her story as an asylum seeker in the second session of our day. She spent many years in refugee camps before she journeyed to Australia. She is a mother to five children whom we met through her PowerPoint. She spoke of the importance of Hope. Her final observation to us was inspiring, ‘I came to realise that Australians can easily walk with you, in your shoes, if you share your story with them’.

Zeca, a refugee from Timor Leste, ran a drumming workshop for us. The rhythmic beats that resonated from 30 different drums, often complex and challenging, set our toes tapping and hands clapping. What fun!

As well as enjoying delicious food and warm sunshine with our friends, we finished our day with a moving liturgy, celebrated for us by Fr. Kevin Toomey OP, our College chaplain. He spoke to the students about the life of Oscar Romero and the importance of being prepared to stand for what we believe, as was also exemplified by our guest presenters. We sang, prayed for the intentions of our world, our school and of us, and enjoyed the opportunity for quiet prayer and peaceful reflection. Overall, the Year 9 students commented that the day helped fill them with hope and reminded them of the blessings of living in Australia. 


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