Joe and Sonia Hickry feel a deep sense of belonging to the St Martha’s Catholic Primary and Parish community.
Three of their six children still attend school. Alannah, in Year 6, is a school captain, Jason is in Year 4, and their youngest, Jacinta, has just started Kindergarten. As the Parish celebrates its centenary year in 2016, they are appreciative of its influence and the sense of belonging the close-knit community provides.
“When our children go in to the Children’s Liturgy on Sundays they have their friends from school there too. All of those familiar faces – it’s like one big family,” Sonia said. “It brings our immediate family together as well. It’s that one time and commitment that we make – that we all go to church together. That draws us closer to our faith and to the community.”
Joe is a regular helper at events for the school and parish, including a sausage sizzle held for students on St Martha’s feast day. He took over the barbecue with another past parent of the school from Parish members who had helped with the event for about 40 years.
“They used to come out of their way from the Central Coast to do the barbecue, so it’s a wonderful thing,” Joe said. “Fr Chris Slattery is very positive, upbeat and welcoming. He brings the community together. Whenever he has needed help with events I’m always the first one there because I love seeing the community come together.
“It’s one thing to have great grades and a wonderful school for education, but you need that positive culture too. Here everyone gets along.”
Dr Damian John Gleeson has written a book about the history of the Parish titled Faith, Hospitality and Service, which will be launched on April 3. Students from the school will also sing at the Parish’s main centenary mass in August.
Sonia said that like many mothers she identified with St Martha, who in the gospel story worked hard to prepare for her house guest while her sister Mary sat at Jesus feet and listened to him speak. “I recognise her qualities and I think a lot of us do. We all have a bit of Martha in us and I think that’s what makes this community so good, because Martha was hospitable, welcoming and served her community. A lot of our families here do that. Everyone is willing to help, and when anyone is in need, hands are always up.”
St Martha’s Catholic Schools Week celebrations will include opportunities for parents to observe their children’s learning including open classrooms on March 7 and 8, from 9.45am, and open sports lessons from 8.50am to 12.30pm.