The theology that speaks most profoundly to me is one that subscribes to faith in action. Saint Mary Mackillop’s mantra of ‘never see a need without doing something about it’ has been my guiding vision and mission. And I suppose it was born out of a lesson taught very early in life that words without action is a hollow sentiment.
My name is Genevieve O’Reilly and at the beginning of 2016 I was appointed as the Deputy Principal, Catholic Identity, Galen Catholic College. I arrived at this position by a circuitous route commencing teaching late in life after several different careers in a variety of landscapes and incarnations. These taught many great lessons about life and I believe prepared me for my present role. I have been employed at four schools now, three in the Catholic system and one state school. It was whilst working at Xavier High school in Albury that I was provided with the opportunity to deepen my faith through a Masters in Theology. This opened a new horizon and I felt myself moving towards a path that I had never really considered, partly because my faith has often been a struggle and partly because like a lot of women, I did not consider myself suitably qualified nor prepared appropriately to lead in this area. However, opportunity knocked, I have answered and I have no regrets as it is proving to be an exciting and challenging role.
So what does this thing Catholic Identity mean? I have come to the conclusion that my mission is to ensure that we as people of the Church, make sure we are who we say we are. It’s not just about religious education, signs and symbols but that we are truly people of the book. This means loving the unlovable, encountering Christ in all that we meet and getting our hands dirty walking in solidarity.
What does this look like at Galen? We are a dual charism school. Our traditions are informed and shaped by the Marist and Brigidine philosophies. These compel us to be people of hospitality, of mercy, gratitude and prayer. We also need to remember that we work on sacred ground; that of the Pangarang people of the Yorta Yorta nation. Therefore, we need to practice authentic and meaningful stewardship of our community and its resources.
Like many Catholic schools we are tasked with working in an ever increasing climate of secularisation. The challenge for us is prove ourselves as an authentic and meaningful alternative in the 21st century. We experience stiff competition in a world that has seen our Church decimated by scandals of abuse of power and privilege. The path we have taken and will continue to take, is through a vibrant social justice program, meaningful engagement with liturgy and a religious education curriculum that keeps pace with the shifting sands of the moral and ethical landscape that is our current era. I look forward to walking this journey with you and invite you to come and see how this manifests itself at Galen.