Standing on the shoulders of others
‘We are standing on the shoulders of ones who came before us. We are stronger for their courage; we are wiser for their words, we are lifted by their longing for a fair and brighter future.’
(Joyce Johnson Rouse).
This quote was particularly pertinent this week. At 11:00am on 11 November 1918, the guns on the Western Front fell silent after four years of continuous warfare. On Remembrance Day, all Australians were encouraged to observe one minute's silence to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts. It was pleasing that our students participated so well in this year’s College Remembrance commemoration recognising the bravery of all concerned.
We also talk about the strong shoulders of others when we discuss the evolution of John XXIII College and the wider Catholic Church. It is interesting to look at some global perspectives which reflects a changing Church. The number of Catholics worldwide has experienced a 57% increase since 1980 (world population in the same timeframe increased by 47%). Much of that increase has been in Africa (238%) and Asia (115%). The past three decades have witnessed significant changes in the role of religion in society with the phrase ‘spiritual but not religious’ entering common parlance. The experience of the Jesuits is mirrored by other Religious Orders. In 1986 there were over 25,000 Jesuits worldwide reducing to 16,740 in 2015. (Jesuit Schools: A Living Tradition in the 21st Century.)
There are many challenges facing the modern Church. To be respectful and hospitable to people from different cultures and religious traditions; to work closely with the lay people and to embrace the role of women in the Church are imperatives in welcoming the call of Christ. We live in exciting times.