The season of Lent started with our Ash Wednesday liturgy. This year we held this liturgy in the gym due to the ground being wet. Loretta Knights, one of our Special Character Committee leaders, spoke to the students about our Lenten obligations. Deacon Vince officiated at the liturgy; this was a first for the deacon!
On 5th March, the Bishop celebrated the inaugural mass of the parish of St Thomas Aquinas in the Action Centre. At this occasion, our student leaders were blessed and commissioned and a blessing was given to staff and board of Aquinas College. It was great to see many staff, students and parents at this special mass.
Two weeks ago, a group of senior students went to Rotorua to join with the other high schools in the diocese in training for running a Caritas event at school. We anticipate that we will hold an event in Term Two. The focus this year is on helping the people of Kiribas as they struggle to cope with the implications of climate change, which threatens their very existence.
The 10P Social Studies class ran a very successful Caritas Week focusing on raising awareness of issues and on fund-raising for Caritas. It is part of an Achievement Standard in Social Studies. The students have raised the profile of Caritas by speaking at assembly and promoting their activities.
A group of fourteen Year 12 students volunteered to help out at Tauranga Hospital. This was twice as many as we needed so we have created two “teams”. The first group of seven students worked with patients who needed help getting to the ecumenical service in the chapel on 26th March. They all did a wonderful job giving up more than two hours of their weekend.
The Set Free Youth event, open to Year 11-13 students, is held at Tokoroa. Anna-Marie, our school chaplain, and RE teachers are promoting attendance at the event and a bus runs from Aquinas on Friday 7th April after school to take students there.
On Tuesday 11th April, we have our annual Cross Walk. Year 12 and 13 students carry a cross on a walk from St Thomas More church, across Matapihi rail bridge to the centre of Tauranga, then through the city centre and out to St Mary’s school. Then they make their way to Aquinas College. This walk of witness to our faith culminates in a whole school liturgy in the afternoon.
And so we enter the most holy part of the Church year, the events of Holy Week and our celebrations for Easter. This year we are delighted to be hosting the Hui Aranga as Maori from throughout the North Island converge on our school site in a wonderful celebration of faith.