Sr Aloysius Martyn Arts Centre
Although students have been enjoying the new learning space at Coolock since we first used the building at the Pastoral Planning Day earlier this year, Friday 10 May was the day it was officially opened and blessed by Bishop Leslie Tomlinson.
It was another formal event for our community where our Irish ancestors and their sense of humour came to fore. Regardless of the gloomy forecast we were not persuaded to postpone, there had been too many logistics involved in ensuring all planning was in place for this one day. So, rather than an outdoor event we moved into the warmth of the beautiful new drama space.
I can only imagine that Sr Aloysius Martyn back in 1876 in Swinford, Ireland, would have gone about her business and preparing to travel to Australia regardless of any rain. At the invitation of Bishop Crane, she had been invited to what was called Sandhurst to found Mercy Education and the Sisters of Mercy in Bendigo.
We were blessed to have members of the Sisters of Mercy with us to celebrate the opening and blessing of this building. Sr Sylvia Williams rsm, Board Chair Mercy Education Limited and past Principal reflected on what Catherine McAuley might think if she could see this building, this College and our community today.
We thank the Government of Victoria for their support of the project and The Hon. Jacinta Allan, Member for Bendigo East, and past student, who joined us for this celebration.
The Sister Aloysius Martyn Arts Centre is the culmination of considerable master planning across the College. We wanted a sustainable, agile, smart build that would establish some clear learning and teaching objectives and intentions, creating integrated learning environments that would inspire initiative and innovation.
We are moving from a traditional delivery model to a model where creativity, inquiry, even spontaneity and a love of learning will become part of our culture and the fabric of our school. I believe this building might just be the catalyst that impels that spirit of exploration and wonder that we want to nurture in such a challenging world for our kids.
To complement this building STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), Veritas, the new Mentor Program and a new leadership structure commenced this year. These initiatives are all about targeting our teaching and giving far greater access and responsibility to the students, who have a stake in their learning together with the staff.
The STEAM and Veritas programs are integrated subjects that will merge in time and the proximity of resources and space is critical for this to be functional.
I like this quote from Catherine:
There has been a most Providential Guidance which the want of prudence, vigilance, or judgement has not impeded, and it is here that we can most clearly see the designs of God.
When we consider this quote from Catherine McAuley in the context of our new building there are many elements that resonate with this whole project – although I am not usually someone associated with prudence and judgement, so that might be a stretch!
Through last year, at times, that was how we felt about and approached this build. It was in God’s hands. It was all providence and God’s design. The scope, the timeline, the tribulations, the triumphs over eighteen months. There was always a positive energy, albeit a few nervous deadlines.
In 2018 Catherine McAuley College became a reality and our quest began, to imbue the College with the visual representation of Mercy in associated iconography, identity, crest, uniforms, touchstone statements, website etc. and this is nearly complete. In this endeavour, the story of Catherine has been a great source of learning and inspiration. Her presence through this iconography makes Mercy feel even more established in our community. We have Deb Carter and Fraynework to thank for their direction and support over the past three years.
The building is adorned with a brilliant life-size bronze statue of Catherine McAuley. (Click here to read more about the making of the statue). My favourite moment during the build was when the statue was being lifted into position by crane and we got the only storm in about eight months. Catherine was at full height and being hugged onto the plinth by tradies as she was secured in place. Despite having been on the site for twelve months, one of the lads asked, “who is that chick?” – I think there is still a little smirk on Catherine’s face…
In the coming months another Catherine statue will be placed at St Mary’s in Wright Street.
There are many anecdotes that I could share, but for now I want to commend the crew; to be on a site for this long without any issues impacting on the College community is a credit to all.
Thank you to all those who travelled to the Opening and Blessing Ceremony. Thank you for the endless hours of consultation and comforting conversation that has taken place during this project. This building is the result of strong relationships and shared objectives and praxis.
Thank you to the staff at Coolock for their flexibility and patience and to all staff across the College who play a role in helping and supporting these changes. We acknowledge that developments like these would not happen if it wasn’t for the students as our motivation. I want to apologise to the Year 10s who missed out on time in the new building due to delays.
Thanks to the team at Capital Grants at Catholic Education in Melbourne who helped with the grant approval and implementation. Thank you to the Sandhurst Diocese, Bishop Leslie and to Mr Paul Desmond and his team at the Catholic Education Sandhurst for their ongoing support in so many different ways.
Congratulations to the team of architects at Thomson Adsett, in particular Mr Mark Humphries, and to Mr Tim Dunlop and the RMG team for their efforts in getting this build complete with minimum interruption to our school life.
We extend thanks to Walsh and O’Meara Builders and all their contractors and sub-contractors. We wish to particularly note the effort and persistence that Mr Lee Franklin and Mr Kevin O’Meara and their team demonstrated through many long hot summer days, the Christmas break and even through the weekends.
At a local level I want to thank our College Advisory Council for their contribution and wisdom and the Leadership Team, in particular at Coolock, for the massive amount of work and time that has been involved.
And finally, a huge thank you to the team from Mercy Education Limited (MEL), Mr Christopher Houlihan, Chief Executive Officer, Mr Eugene Lynch for his regular travels and wisdom and to Mr Joe Konynenburg. To the MEL Board, for their support of the project and the direction the College has taken. We also acknowledge McAuley Property Limited and Mrs Polly Caldow for her travels, mentoring and discernment.
All these people have been critical in bringing ideas to maturity and realising our vision; we are thankful to each of you for your contributions. May this building and the learning that happens here be a legacy that you are all proud of. As Catherine said:
We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.
And may that be the reality for each and every student who enjoys this space and Catherine’s legacy.
Mr Brian Turner, Principal
Sr Sylvia Williams rsm, Board Chair Mercy Education Limited and past Principal with Mr Brian Turner