A strong sense of social justice is evident in the school and the college encourages all students to become aware of a variety of global social justice issues.
The college encourages all students to become aware of a variety of global social justice issues. It has a strong, ongoing commitment to social justice issues which are at the forefront of many student extra-curricular activities. This is clearly shown by the continuation of an Immersion program for senior students to Maumere Flores, Indonesia, and the college's ongoing commitment to the support of Marist Sisters' Mission initiatives in Fiji and The Philippines.
Marist Social Justice Group
The Marist Social Justice Group began in 2008 when a group of thirteen Year Eleven students approached the Principal, Mrs Baker, about the need for an active social justice presence in the school. It was decided that the group should be run by the students and so the suggestions and decisions come from the students themselves.
The College motto, “In Omnibus Christus” (In all things Christ), is the foundation of all the activities of the Cerdon College Marist Social Justice Group. The students come together in the Marist way, combining their beliefs, values and practices, to create opportunities for those in the wider global community who are less able to help themselves.
There are many leadership roles within the Social Justice framework at Cerdon College. These roles allow each student to participate in, contribute to, and promote activities, and raise awareness within the College, of the plight of those whom we seek to help.
Senior students from Year 11 are able to assume leadership roles as Social Justice Leaders. Senior leaders liaise with Mission Promoters in each of the junior homerooms, and also with the Junior Leaders from Year 9. This structure allows all students to contribute to and encourage, an ongoing spirit of cooperation and commitment throughout the school community.
In addition to Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion, which is our primary focus each year, there have been many other activities undertaken by the Social Justice Group. These include:
- raising funds and collecting school equipment for schools in Zambia, New Guinea and Emerton
- sending over 2500 library books to the Marist Sisters’ Mission in Kanosia, New Guinea
- donating to orphanages in the Philippines
This list is by no means exhaustive, but shows the diversity of projects undertaken by the students.
The Social Justice program will continue to put into practice the words of Mary at the wedding feast at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5)
The Knitting Group meets 3 days a week at lunchtime. The group is open to any student from Years 7-12. The girls learn to knit and crochet items for themselves e.g. covered coat hangers, mobile phone covers, scarves etc. The group allows students to make new friends, learn new skills and have a chat. Our aim each year is to knit enough squares to sew together and make knee rugs. These rugs are donated to our neighbouring aged care facility, Cardinal Gilroy Village. They are donated annually when Cerdon perform a Christmas concert for the residents. To date, over 40 rugs have been donated with more on their way.
Volunteers in Action Program - Year 11
Our Year 11 students participate in the annual Volunteers in Action Program. Students spend a week helping others in our local community. They are placed in nursing homes, child care centres, primary schools, and special needs primary schools, where they assist and lend a hand in any way they can. The students learn a great deal from this experience and develop many workplace and social skills at the same time. Many students are able to use the placement to explore a possible future career option. The teachers and carers always truly value the assistance the students provide; and the children and nursing home residents miss the students when they return to school. On many occasions after the placement, our students continue to volunteer their time and return to the nursing homes and special needs schools, in particular, to visit the residents and children again.
The Vampire Shield is a school-based blood donation competition held each year. Cerdon College has participated in this incredibly rewarding competition for the past eight years and the school has finished first in the Sydney region for seven years. We have always been ranked in the top five schools in the state for the number of blood donations provided.
Once a term, students’ sixteen years and over are transported by minibus to the Parramatta Donor Centre for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. They have their blood pressure taken and iron levels checked, and if all is okay they are able to donate 470 ml of their own blood, which saves the lives of up to three people. This is a true reflection of the wonderful social conscience and practical community involvement that Cerdon students exhibit.
Cerdon to Cerdon Pilgrimages to the village of Cerdon in France took place in both 2008 and 2010, with another one planned for 2014. These pilgrimages are of immense significance for Cerdon College, Merrylands. Cerdon village is where Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, along with Father Jean Claude Colin, founded the Marist Sisters and began the Society of Mary. Coutouvre, Jarnosse, Belley and Fourviere are also places of Marist significance, where pilgrims visit and pray.
Coutouvre is a beautiful village where Chavoin was born. She was baptised in the Church at Coutouvre and spent long hours in prayer there. It is always fulfilling to visit the place that shaped the religious beliefs and practices of Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, who as patron of Cerdon College has such an influential role in our own spiritual lives.
Jarnosse is where Chavoin built the school and convent for the Marist Sisters to live and work in. In Belley, the pilgrims visit the Chapel at the Jeanne-Marie Chavoin Centre, the final resting place of Chavoin.
The pilgrims are always in awe of Fourviere Cathedral and pray in the Chapel where, in 1816, Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Jean-Claude Colin and Marcellin Champagnat also prayed and made a promise to go out and make the whole world Marist.
These pilgrimages are truly an experience of a lifetime for students and staff.