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Religious Life: Community Life

Religious Life

The Religious Life of the College                

The way that students and staff engage with the religious life of the College forms a significant dimension of the education for both heartand mind offered at Villanova. Boys are shaped in their journey through Villanova by the sacramental and prayer life of the College, by being educated about Augustine and prominent Augustinians – Thomas of Villanova especially - as well as by a rich array of community service opportunities and events. Christ is the Teacher at Villanova: the students are invited and challenged to make live contact with the Gospel, with the Inner Teacher (Augustine reminds us that “You are closer to me than I am to myself”), and by touching and seeing the dignity of the poorest members of our community.


Sacramental and prayer life:
There is a full College Mass each term, moving from the Mass of the Holy Spirit to open the school year, through to the Celebration offeasts such as those of St Thomas of Villanova, St Augustine and All Saints. The Graduation ceremony also incorporates a Mass for all graduands and their families. The other liturgies where the whole college comes together are: Ash Wednesday, the Lenten Liturgy, the ANZAC service and the Advent Liturgy. Committed teams of students enhance participation by working as Eucharistic ministers and as a liturgical music group.


The students are also served by the creation of sacred space and time through having a Mass each Semester with their pastoral group, through the rhythm of daily prayer to start and end the day, and through the provision of sacramental spaces and signs around the campus, like the precinct signs which also point to the spiritual dimension of the journey through school. 
Of equal sacramental importance is the flourishing role of the Arts at the College. Musicians, artists and drama students are frequently commissioned to prepare and present works which grapple with the great questions of life, or works that inspire a sense of wonder and beauty in the students and staff.


In terms of formation for both the individual and the community, each year group enjoys at least one day of reflection, or retreat, at Villanova Park each year. The annual camps for each year level also include liturgy and reflection, and the Year 12 camp takes the form of a three day retreat.

 

Charism:

The three Gateway values, of interiority, community and search for truth, act as pointers to the distinctive Augustinian way of living the Gospel. The school motto, vincit veritas, the crest of the heart aflame and the book, and the Mission Statement (exhorting that we be “of one heart and one mind on the journey to God”) are likewise used as touchstones for community growth. The learning about our Augustinian heritage that occurs in the classroom and through liturgy is supported in the fabric and structure of the campus. Each classroom is furnished with an image of an Augustinian saint or bishop, and different areas of the campus are enlivened by artworks of the Augustinian heroes and stories, such as the frieze depicting the arrival of Archbishop Goold in Australia. Significant opportunities also exist for all staff to learn more about and be formed in the Augustinian Charism, for example through twilight workshops and pilgrimage.


Ministry and community service:
There are a number of well-established Ministry groups whose influence leavens the whole campus. The Young Christian Students find ways to make the campus a welcoming and friendly place for all boys, for example by playing handball with the Year 5s. The St Vincent de Paul group ensures that we reach out to the local community, for example in the provision of Lent and Advent hampers to families at risk. The Young Augustinian Youth Ministry group (Middle School) organise on-campus events such as the Mothers’ Day stall as well as visiting the local primary school and elderly residents’ homes. AFAS (Australian Filipino Augustinian Solidarity) galvanises support across the College to serve three sister schools in the central Philippines whom we have been visiting biennially since 1992. The annual Mission Day, on 22nd May (Feast of St Rita), has evolved as a special day away from the usual timetable to stir college-wide awareness of the needs of the world, especially with regard to our sister schools in the Philippines. 

 


There are a number of other significant events each year that raise the awareness of the community regarding how we can impact on the world beyond our gates. For example 2014 featured a mother and son day in which 1,000 care packs were put together from donations across the whole College; a homelessness conference organised in tandem with Rosies; the fourth FairGo touch footy sevens at Villanova Park, in which sport is used as a means to hold out the hand of friendship to those least advantaged in our community, and a community Christmas lunch for our refugee workers and our contract cleaners, and their families. 


Summary
With the help of the particular Augustinian history and journey, boys, staff and families are richly encouraged in their journey to the humble, richly forgiving and generous God made visible every day in Jesus Christ. All community members are daily encouraged to “take up and read” the Gospel, and to turn it into a living reality, through service, within and beyond the College gates. This community pilgrimage dimension of College life is not seen as “added value” but central to the holistic education envisaged by the Augustinian founders.