Students at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary Fairfield celebrated their faith through the school’s first Easter hat parade in more than eight years, and reflected on Patrician values during a visit from the Patrician Brothers’ international congregational leader.
Brother Jerome Ellens arrived in Australia from India for official celebrations to mark the 125th anniversary of Holy Cross College Ryde, where Our Lady of the Rosary’s principal Brother Nicholas Harsas was once a student and found his vocation.
He spoke to the students, staff and parents at an assembly before visiting classrooms of the senior students and enjoying lunch with the staff on March 31.
He was very impressed with the school community – the respect, the warmth, and the friendliness of the students and staff.
“The students had the opportunity to ask him questions about his role in the congregation and the other countries where the brothers work,” Br Nicholas said.
“I think they were very overwhelmed to think that the actual world leader of the Patrician Brothers was here.
“They asked him questions about his leadership and the differences between the countries he visits where the brothers work. He was explaining that just the look of our classrooms which are so appealing and attractive and colourful is very different compared to the classrooms in Papua New Guinea or Kenya where there is very little.
“He was very impressed with the school community – the respect and the warmth and the friendliness of the students and staff. He also reads our newsletter so he was able to congratulate the children on their great academic results in NAPLAN and how they had contributed so well to raising money for project compassion.
“He was very affirming of the work of the school.”
Br Nicholas, also a Patrician Brother, is the only remaining religious principal of a Sydney Catholic primary school. He said the order and schools affiliated with it were driven by values including option for the poor. This can be seen in the way the order has established schools in areas of need around the globe including Ghana and Papua New Guinea, and the schools opened historically across NSW.
“We live in a completely different environment and atmosphere compared to some of those other places but there is still that same love for Jesus, and the Patrician spirit is evident whether we are in a richer school or a poorer school or any school in between,” Br Nicholas said.
“The Patrician spirit for me is about hospitality, it’s about respect, and it’s about seeing Christ in everyone. If you have that as your ideal, as something to strive for, it keeps you on the right track.”
The Easter hat parade was held after the school’s parent engagement group asked if it could form part of the school’s Easter celebrations. The theme was new life and the joy of Easter, named to tie in with the school’s religious celebrations. It was held ahead of a liturgy to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection after the Easter long weekend.
“We did it after the Easter break so it’s a real celebration of the Easter event.
“That was the time we could be filled with joy and delight and excitement for the new life of Jesus,” Br Nicholas said. “It was a great celebration, a lot of fun, and allowed that day to begin with great Easter spirit.
“Teachers did talk about some of the symbols of new life the students could have on their hats. There were lots of eggs, one child had the symbol of an empty tomb, and some had leaves and butterflies. All of those wonderful symbols of new life decorated the hats.”
Our Lady of the Rosary had other cause for celebration with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s release of NAPLAN results early in March. The school was one of only 43 primary schools in the state to demonstrate learning gain substantially above the average in both literacy and numeracy.