It seems hard to believe that the first two weeks of Term 4 are already over. During this time Year 12 have commenced their Higher School Certificate Examinations. After receiving valuable feedback from their yearly examinations Year 11 are reflecting upon their subject loads and if necessary are making slight adjustments. Students in Year 10 are preparing for their upcoming yearly examinations. Whatever year your daughter/s is in all teachers are encouraging students to finish the year well.
On Wednesday, 16th October I accompanied Year 10 students Angelina, Tamara, Celeste and Ann to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta for the Year 9 Social Justice Day. This day is an opportunity for students throughout the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta to come together to discuss their school’s Social Justice initiatives and gain new insights. Planning new initiatives are guided by the launch of the 2019-2020 Social Justice Statement 'Making it Real'. This statement is developed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC). The theme emphasises the need for genuine human encounter in our digital world.
The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL unpacked the Social Justice Statement for students and Mr Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) addressed the students.
Making it Real affirms the positive possibilities for encounter and solidarity offered by new digital media, while warning of those elements of our digital world that may be harmful. These include information overload; social isolation; marginalisation of the vulnerable; consumerism and fake news.
The Statement reminds us that the new digital media cannot be seen as neutral or ‘unaffected by any moral considerations’. While many users do not realise it, the core business of social media platforms is to sell advertising and maximise profits. People’s personal lives may be reduced to data that is traded for profit or power, and it is used to target and influence us in ways previously unthinkable. Pushing users to more extreme positions and promoting fake news and conspiracy theories sells, but this is at odds with human solidarity.
The Statement amplifies Pope Francis’ call to us to ‘boldly become citizens of the digital world’, with the image of the Good Samaritan as our inspiration. We are called not only to love our neighbour, but to bring the love of God to the new global neighbourhood. The Statement points out that we are called not just to be inhabitants of this new digital world, but active citizens shaping it. All of us – whether we are users, communities, industrial or political leaders – have a role to play in rejecting hatred, divisions and falsehoods. We have a duty to foster a neighbourhood that promotes those human attributes and social values that lend themselves to genuine human encounter – love, understanding, beauty, goodness, truth and trustworthiness, joy and hope.
At the conclusion of the day Angelina, Tamara, Celeste and Ann created some strategies to introduce at Catherine McAuley Westmead to continue our responsible usage of digital technology. We look forward to seeing these ideas come to fruition.
Ms Genevieve Banks
Religious Education Coordinator