Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
This morning I was talking to my electrician, a man who originally hales from Aberdeen in the North of  Scotland. We began to discuss the possibility of Scottish independence and he expressed the view that the same model could develop as in the Irish province of Ulster. The Catholics want to be independent, the Protestants want to remain a part of the United Kingdom. We discussed sectarian matters for a few minutes and then he expressed the thought that he was lucky to be from Aberdeen, a city with two universities but only one football team. The reason he gave was simply that the Universities welcomed everyone but when a Scottish town (e.g. Glasgow) had two football teams they tended to be exclusive. Only certain members of society were welcome!
As we move into holy week and our final preparations for Easter, it is a good time to focus on that key Christian value of inclusivity. Jesus right throughout his mission welcomed everyone to join with him. The poor, the ill, the unwanted.
Perhaps the idea of being inclusive is best shown in our Mercy value of ‘care for the poor and vulnerable’ and the story of the good Samaritan. Remember that a Samaritan was not just an unknown member of the public, he was a member of a group of people that the Jews did not get along with. Yet it was a member of this group of people who stopped to help the injured man.
It is easy to be nice and helpful to those who you see as friends or even those who you can relate to but to be a true follower of Christ you must be welcoming to those who you don’t get along with.
Have a happy and holy Easter break.
Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
It is hard to believe that we are already in week ten of the term. As we come to the end of the season of  Lent it is perhaps a good time to focus on what we have and how lucky our lot is, especially when com-pared to those who live in other less hospitable parts of the world.
I am reading a book at the moment written by the British survival expert Bear Grylls. It is entitled ‘True Grit” and it looks at a number of amazing survival stories.
The underlying theme is that the strongest factor we have that helps people to survive from hazardous
situations is their determination and will to live. But the other key theme is that to survive we really need so little, yet we continually put pressure on ourselves by wanting newer and bigger and better consumer items.
Lent is a time for us to consider what is really important. What do we really need to not just survive but to be content. The old prayer the Desiderata says “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
To be content, we need to know ourselves well and to know what we value and what we want to achieve.
We have to be guarded about people telling us what we want or need e.g. you simply must have a new car, a bigger T.V. and trip to London. While all of these things are nice, don’t let need be confused with want. In Genesis the serpent tempts Adam and Eve by offering not what they need but by telling them what they want. Our needs to survive are simple: food, water, clothing, shelter and warmth. Our wants are too numerous to list. The people in the Solomon Islands as they struggle to survive want very little but their needs are the same as ours.
So as we come to the end of Lent please remember the three pillars of lent: Prayer, alms giving and
fasting, and keep the people who are struggling to simply survive, in your hearts.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
In Ecclesiastes (Chapter 3:1-9) we read “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven”. This is an important learning for us to remember when we think of our aspirations for our children.
It’s highly seductive as a parent to think that your child is seen as really talented and able to play at a
higher level at a younger age, or be the youngest in their class—but still be able to work at the same level or even higher than those of an older age. But research, anecdotal evidence and my own experiences urge caution when presented with the concept of promoting children either in sport or academia.
In physical sports, such as rugby, size is obviously important but so is maturity. When I was in the old Third form at St Kevin’s I was a member of an invincible under 48kg rugby team. The stars of our team were two Seventh formers (Year 13) boys who were the same weight as everybody else but were much stronger and more mature. Size even in a physical game like rugby, is not the only way to measure what is a fair match or an appropriate team for a player to be in.
In more skill focus sports such as cricket or hockey while the physical component is not so paramount it is still a key factor. I have seen young cricketers promoted early by their parents intimidated by bowling too fast and hostile for their skill set, put off the game, mainly due to their inability to succeed. Everybody be it child or adults need to experience success.
Continual failure tells us simply that we are in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. The same rules
apply to placement for academic purposes. NCEA is form adjudicated—that is you sit Level One in Year Eleven and Level Two in Year Twelve etc. Age is not a factor. Promoting a child means that they are sitting exams with less time to prepare than others. The social component also needs to be examined, do you want your child to be oldest or the youngest in their peer group as they become young adults?
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan