Our College is called Holy Cross College and we have many images of different crosses around the school. Our crosses come from all over the world and each has its own story, but they have one meaning – they are a symbol of our belief that we are a community of transformation in the spirit of the risen Christ. Around the Church we have the crosses the students personalised during their Retreat at New Norcia – they are symbols of their aspirations of their lives beyond school – spiritually and physically – and include a Gospel quote to represent this.
Before I embarked on the 900 kilometre journey on the Camino in 2017, Mr Shelton showed me this picture of a Cross in a church in Melide. I arrived in this small village having walked 750 kilometres and easily found the Church of Santa Maria de Melide as it was right on the Camino. I was keen to see this crucifix with its unusual design. Unfortunately the Church was closed as it was November and there were small number of pilgrims on the Camino at this time of the year. In April this year when I walked from Leon to Santiago de Compostela, I again went through Melide. This time the Church of Santa Maria de Melide was open. After waiting so long I was intrigued to see the crucifix in which Jesus is depicted with one hand reaching down from the cross.
It was the first time I had seen a crucifix like this and was amazed to see a similar image when I was travelling in Quebec in June. This Cross was in the Basilica of St Ann de Beaupre. In both versions of the crucifix Jesus is depicted as reaching down to humanity. For me, in these crucifixes there is strong sense of connection with humanity, of reaching out. There is a strong sense of mission, just as on the cross Christ reaches out to humanity, we are called to reach out to each other, particularly those most in need.
In a number of Canadian Churches I saw a sign over the inside door, positioned to be read by parishioners as they left the Church – it said ‘Your Mission Starts Here’. The sign was a reminder that our faith calls us to action. Addressing young people on World Mission Day 2018, Pope Francis said, ‘Life is a mission. Every man and woman is a mission; that is the reason for our life on this earth … To live out joyfully our responsibility for the world is a great challenge. I am well aware of lights and shadows of youth; when I think back to my youth and my family, I remember the strength of my hope for a better future.’
Our graduates have spent up to six years immersed in our faith story, they have heard the stories of our College patrons, each of whom had a strong sense of mission, a strong sense of building a better future. Our patrons were inspired by their faith to reach out, in their own place and time by living the message of Jesus in an inspirational way.
In sense, for our Graduates their mission starts right here – grounded in family, school and parish, they are ready to set out on their journey as adults. Just as our patrons responded to their call to mission according to the particular circumstances in their own lives, I hope our graduates respond to the challenge to live life to the full in our time. I hope they live a life in which their choices are choices not just for themselves, but choices that enable all to live life to the full, including future generations. I hope they dream of a better future and inspired by the image of Christ reaching down from the cross and by our College patrons, they contribute to building it.
At the end of the Graduation Mass students receive a small bottle of olive oil is pressed from olives that have come from the original trees that Dom Salvado took to New Norcia. Students also receive a small replica of the Salvadoran Cross to remind them of Oscar Romero, the patron of the College and their call to live a life of transformation in the Risen Christ.
Ms Mandy Connor