A peace haven is a garden of inclusiveness

Peace is a word that infuses Mary MacKillop Catholic College Wakeley – even the usually forgotten spaces.

And so the back of the college, the place of leftovers and remnants, was conceived as the perfect place for a new peace garden in a college alive with different cultures. In this garden, nothing and no one is forgotten.

Distinguished guests, students and staff gathered for the blessing and commemoration of a garden filled with plants indigenous to Australia as well as plants from countries of the students’ heritage.

It is not enough to just have an idea

Mrs Natalie Gesson

Year 12 students formed a guard of honour for the ceremony attended by the Mayor of Holroyd Nasr Kafrouni, the local member for Fairfield, Guy Zangari and Sr Jan Barnett, head of the Josephite Justice Office based within the office of Catholic Social  Services Australia in Canberra.Wakeley_07_15_2015_008

Natalie Gesson, Leader of Learning and Community Engagement Pathway, told the gathering the  idea for the garden began in 2014 after a Clubgrant writing workshop.

“That idea, just like a tiny seed planted in one’s head, has grown into a reality,” said Mrs Gesson.

The purpose of the garden is to represent indigenous cultures with the focal point a fire pit, to represent Australian indigenous cultural heritage with its emphasis on storytelling and gathering to  share stories.

The late John Lennis, a Dharawal man and horticulturist, was the adviser on the project.

“(It is) a place for sharing life stories by all members of our community in order to promote and  strengthen inter-cultural relationships,” said Mrs Gesson.


Mrs Natalie Gesson with Principal Narelle Archer (left)

Creating the garden also involved the planning team learning about native plants and Mr Lennis’ vision for an indigenous garden, which included a trip to Mount Annan Botanic Garden to learn about bush foods and the medicinal properties of indigenous flora.

“We learned how to make pesto from warrigal greens and macadamia nuts and a refreshing cordial drink from flowers of a callistemon,” she said.

Complementing the garden is a mural of clay jacaranda pods made by each of the students forming the badge of the college. As the school community grows, so too will the number pods of trailing from vines.

“It is not enough to just have an idea. It is vital to bounce that idea off others and include them in your vision because then your idea has the potential to blossom into something amazing,” said Mrs Gesson.

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