Home' Aurora : Aurora May 2013 Contents Parents and
on the journey
BY CATH GARRETT-JONES
Parents are keen to be involved at St Joseph's Primary, Dungog.
The centenary of Australian religious order 'Our Lady's Nurses for the Poor' was celebrated with
Mass at St Mary's Cathedral Sydney. Congregational leader Sr Margaret Mary Birgan OLN of
Newcastle is in the front row (fifth from left) and Bishop Emeritus Michael Malone and Fr Brian
Mascord Vicar General also participated.
The Hon Pru Goward, Minister for Family &
Community Services and for Women, with
Bishop Bill at the opening of CatholicCare
Social Services' new Maitland office.
Principal of St Michael's Nelson Bay, Helen
Bourne, was 'locked up' and only released
when 'bail' had been raised by the community.
Local PCYC funds received a substantial boost
from the Time 4 Kids initiative.
Parent Liaison and Resource Officer for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of
Maitland-Newcastle, Cath Garrett-Jones, reflects on the daily reality of parenting.
"Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation
to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognised as the primary and principal
Pope Paul VI, 1965 Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis
I cannot pretend to know everything there
is to know about being a parent; in fact,
I'm happy to admit that I learn daily about
one of life's most challenging -- and most
rewarding -- roles.
As a wife, and mother of three girls,
aged 10, 15 and 19, I have a range of
potential issues to confront on a daily
basis, from adjudicating what is and is not
appropriate to wear in your hair to school,
to more demanding matters concerning
In almost 20 years as a mother, navigating
primary and secondary schooling and
then launching a child into university,
crossing my fingers all would be well, I
reflect often on the level of involvement and
engagement I have had with the schools
my children have attended.
I am a believer in the notion that my
husband and I are the first teachers of
our children -- we set the ground rules
and the compass that determines the
values and morals we seek to nurture in
our children. This is rooted in our Christian
faith. We sought an education that "lived"
the Christian values we were teaching at
home. We sought a school where we, as
a family, were gathered in and embraced,
where we could join together with the
whole community to nurture and foster the
development of our children.
I have seen how we have been able to
challenge our children to reflect on their
values and choices, incidentally, as we
travel to soccer or do a quick trip to the
shopping centre to collect whatever is
so desperately needed by one of them. I
am sure my children roll their eyes when
I question them about "the right things to
do" or "How do you think you would feel in
that situation? " I realise I risk their switching
off, but as a mother, I feel an overwhelming
sense that it is my responsibility, and
indeed privilege, to shape these malleable
beings into the treasures they are.
I recall vividly sending my eldest off
to Kindergarten and recognising that
no longer were we the sole "holders
of the reins" -- that others would have
that influence too. So I did what many
parents do: I read every newsletter; asked
questions of my child upon her return from
school, without wanting to overwhelm
or alarm; checked her bag daily for any
shred of correspondence from her teacher,
because I wanted to know what was
happening in my daughter's life.
Of course I soon realised that there are
avenues for input where I could be involved
and engaged in my child's education. I
developed relationships with my child's
school. I spoke to teachers, shared my
concerns and when I felt they weren't
shared by them or they hadn't heard or
understood the depth of my concern, I
spoke to them again -- ever mindful that
this was a partnership and that in order for
my child to thrive, we all needed to work
together, to listen to each other carefully,
respectfully -- and with the knowledge
that this little one needed to be kept at the
centre of our discussions.
I am very proud of the partnerships
developed along the way with many of the
teachers who so skilfully and sensitively
assisted us in shaping our children. I am
proud, too, of my children and the young
women they are becoming. I am grateful for
the opportunities I have had to have a voice
in their school lives -- whether it be through
a formal survey, a chance to chat with the
Principal or one of their teachers on Parent-
Teacher evenings, or an invitation to put my
hand up to participate in a school event or
I approach my children's schools as a
partner, a co-traveller on a privileged
As the Parent Liaison and Resource Officer
I encourage you to seek that partnership:
to be involved and engaged in your child's
school experience and broader activities.
You may wish to visit www.mn.catholic.
edu.au/parents-community To contact
Cath Garrett-Jones, P 4979 1303 or
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
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