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Payneham students take action to save the planet


Ecological awareness and helping to save the planet through personal actions and more elaborate plans were the topic of conversation when the Archdiocesan team dropped into the Year 6/7 class at St Joseph’s School, Payneham.

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The tour of the Portrush Road school was part of the visitation team’s ‘long day’ in the Payneham parish on September 24.

Inspired by the actions of Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, the senior students gave presentations from their recent Middle School Expo, which covered research into the state of the earth and how the choices made today will affect people for many years to come.

They spoke of various ways to have a more sustainable future, from embracing renewable energy sources through to making organic clothing.

Members of the visitation team – which included Administrator Delegate Fr Philip Marshall, acting Chancellor Sarah Moffatt, Deacon Tim Grauel, Teresa Lynch and Denise Ritzema from the Office for Renewing Parishes – were impressed by the detailed research undertaken by the students.

Fr Marshall said their generation would make “great changes” in the future and encouraged them to continue their efforts to look after the planet.

Principal Laurie Sammut, acting deputy Marie Polvere and parish priest Fr Allan Winter accompanied the visitation team on the tour of the school.

As Mr Sammut explained, there is a strong connection between the parish and the school, with Fr Allan involved in the Sacramental program and regularly celebrating Masses for the different year levels.

He said parishioners were often invited to join in activities, such as Grandparents Day, even if they didn’t have a direct connection with St Joseph’s and members of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church often assisted with maintenance projects at the school.

“We are continually forging a relationship,” he said.

“In fact, there are lots of families here where the couple were married by Fr Allan and the children were baptised by him.”

Mr Sammut said while there is a strong Italian influence in the parish, 19 different cultures are represented at the school, and a high percentage of the students are Catholic.

More than 350 students are enrolled from Reception to Year 7, with 82 per cent coming from outside the school area. The school runs a free playgroup once a week and the adjacent pre-school has 71 children on its books.

“We have great staff here and most of our enrolments come from word of mouth. Our open mornings usually have 40 to 50 families attending,” he said.

During the week-long visitation the Archdiocesan team also spent time with the parish’s ever-expanding Coffee Group which meets at a local delicatessen. Many of the group previously participated in an Alpha program and have continued to meet fortnightly under the banner of ‘The Joy of the Encounter’. The group sources online resources and shares these as a means of their ongoing formation, in line with number 1, 3 and 7 Gospel pathways.

The team also met with parish leaders, prayer groups, representatives from St Vincent de Paul, members of St Joseph’s School Board and Parents and Friends. The day concluded over a dinner meeting with the Parish Pastoral Council and Peter Bierer from the Office for Youth and Young Adults was also present with the visitation team.

The parish realised a long-held dream with its first multicultural lunch after Mass on Sunday September 29 with more than 100 parishioners remaining for lunch and taking the opportunity to chat with team members and participate in an ‘open mic’ session.



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