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The Gift of Love, the Gift of Peace

A big, pine needle Christmas tree went up in the Edmund Rice Building foyer last week and it was a strong sign that the year is drawing to a close. Christmas trees are a powerful symbol of this special time of the year.

When I was a little boy growing up in Toowoomba, there was a pine tree in our front yard. My Dad (who turns 86 in late December) would cut off a branch and pot it for a Christmas tree. Of course, it would only last a few days. But I have delightful and treasured memories of decorating it with pulled apart white cotton balls to signify snow!

When I was about ten, the artificial tree arrived. I remained responsible for not only decoration but assembling and disassembling said tree for years to come. I don’t remember ever articulating it as a boy, but I missed the ‘real’ tree, the ritual and the smell of the pine inside our house.

As soon as I had my own home, I reverted to having a natural tree. I stayed small with sorry pine branches purchased through the Lions Club for years but as our children came along, we moved to importing a six to eight foot pine needle giant that takes over our lounge room each year.

Respect and understanding to all who take joy in their artificial trees. You are probably doing a much better thing for the environment than I, but I love our annual tree ritual of collecting it, carrying it, getting poked in the eye by the needles, sawing off the trunk to unseal the sap so the water can get in and then the whole family decorates it together; all five of us, my wife and I and our three once little but now adult daughters.

We have atrocious Pre-School decorative treasures that have stood the test of time, glitter ropes well past their best, beautiful collection pieces gifted by family and friends and a bric-a-brac assortment procured over time that I forget each year but am always delighted to see. All come together as I play my corny Christmas Spotify playlist and we are Christmas creative artists for one of the happiest hours of the year.

In the ensuing days prior to Christmas, on Christmas Eve and Day and those magical days of nothingness between Boxing Day and New Years, I love the smell of the pine filled room, the hum of the Boxing Day Test Match, the glow of the lights and the symbol of family. I don’t mind admitting that I shed quite a few tears by our tree; most of them silent and secret as I remember images of little people and carrots for reindeers and milk for Santa. Nowadays, they are tears of gratitude for my many blessings.

Pretty soon I guess my children will start leaving our home and will need to make their own decisions regarding style, size and method of Christmas tree. They will share these decisions with whoever they share their life with. I hope they remember our trees and what happened around them. I am going to keep lugging my giant up the stairs and planting it in the heart of our home. I hope my kids and whoever comes into their lives keep coming back to gather around this constant and present sign of our love for them and our gratitude for the gifts that our Loving God have given us in them, our extended family and friends.

However you celebrate and whatever your family traditions may be, I extend my Christmas Blessings to all of the ATC family. My prayers of peace, hope and love go to you and your families as you gather in your traditions, ways and styles! We pray for those who will be saddened by the loss of loved ones during 2021 as you come together, and I hope that you are comforted in the knowledge of their love for you. We pray in thanksgiving for our community that it may be continue to be a place to “Belong” for our students, parents and caregivers and staff and that the new year will bring new life as gifted to us by the Christ Child at Christmas and that we gather “As One” to serve, learn and lead in 2022.

We look forward to concluding the year with a Christmas Liturgy and the Christmas Carnival with the boys on Friday.

Celebration of Excellence and Valedictory

Thank you to all of our families who attended one or both of these significant events last week. Both were joyous demonstrations of our culture and wonderful displays of our student and staff gifts and how these are supported by parents and caregivers. Thank you to everyone who made these events possible in facilitation and for your presence.

Managing our Expectations

As we come to the end of almost two years of managing the pandemic together, I thank our community of students, parents and caregivers and staff most sincerely. Fortunately, we would appear to currently be in a good position going into December and the Christmas season. As we are all aware, the border will open at some point in mid December.

It is possible that the current situation regarding health restrictions, mandates or legislation may change over the period before we return to school. Any necessary communication will be forth coming to our community should this be required prior to the commencement of school. As always, Ambrose Treacy College, along with our fellow Catholic schools will be advised by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) in implementing any relevant health orders and guidelines.

We live in hope and optimism that the new year will bring good news in managing the pandemic. It is likely that Term One will bring a different perspective of living with COVID that we have yet to experience in Queensland. This will bring with it new challenges and scenarios to manage. I am confident that our community will work positively and supportively with each other during this time as we have for 2020 and 2021.

My prayer is that over December and January, many of you have the opportunity to see loved ones for the first time in a while and that our ability to connect with each other locally, nationally and globally begins to return and improve in 2022. There will be more to do together in 2022 in caring for and supporting each other in these extraordinary times.

Staff News

As we conclude the year, I wish the following staff who have or are finishing their time at Ambrose Treacy College or taking leave for 2022 the very best and thank them for their wonderful contributions to our story:

Mr Jay Callaghan, Mr Jackson Hickey, Ms Corrie King, Mr Shane Koimans, Ms Sarah McCallan, Ms Sandy McMillan, Mr Adam Moss, Mr David O’Brien, Mrs Jodi Rivalland, Ms Amanda Schiavo, Ms Kelly Sedgman, Ms Saskia Testa, Mr Bill Walker, Mr Brandon Wellington, Mr Kevin Van Der Weide and Mr Damien Zammit.

Staff on Leave

The following staff members will be on leave for 2022:

Mrs Lisa Holohan, Ms Alicia Madigan, Mr David Mapleston and Mr Steve McGiffin.

New Staff

In 2022, we welcome the following staff members to the College:

Sandy Bickerton – English / SOR teacher
Rhett Cope – Athletic Development coordinator
Chris Crane – Digital Technology teacher
Paul Degenkamp – Junior School teacher
Kastelle Gane – Senior School Chemistry and Mathematics teacher
Miranda Jack – Middle/Senior School Geography teacher
Gareth Kolkenbeck-Ruh – Assistant Head of Year 7
Samantha Kolkenbeck-Ruh – Middle School Maths/Science teacher
Adam Knott – Acting Assistant Head of Year 8
Liam Maguire – English / SOR teacher
Ian Morris – Design teacher
Yugei Nair – Middle School Maths/Science teacher
Dennis Russell – Middle School Maths/Science teacher

Prayers

I ask the community to please keep the following students and their families in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of loved ones:
- Patrick Henningham (Year 8 Wynne)
- Will Rutherford (Year 8 Nolan)
- Will Thornton (Year 4 Nolan)
We hope that the passage of time will help heal the pain of their passing. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, may perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen.

God Bless.

Chris Ryan