February 23rd 2017
A Tribute to Sister Maureen George
Kia ora tātou, ngā mihi atawhai,
February 23rd 2017
Kia ora tātou, ngā mihi atawhai,
Our College community has lost someone very special in Sr Maureen George. I pass on my thanks to families for your support of the College with the changes to programmes and events we have had this week. We are loath to interrupt girls learning, but we believe showing this respect to the passing of a great kuia of our College contributes to the broad tapestry of a Catholic education. We are immensely proud of the girls in their contribution and behaviour on Tuesday. The large number of seniors who attended the funeral, participated so prayerfully in the Requiem Mass and provided a guard of honour for the family and Sisters as Sr Maureen was carried out of the church was a wonderful testament to their Mercy values. The respectful way the juniors lined the street to provide a guard of honour as the hearse passed through was amazing. It was a hot afternoon, and the timing of such a large funeral meant they stood far longer than we could have anticipated, and even beyond the bell which I never dreamed they would do! I was so proud of all girls and thank them most sincerely.
I know that many of you won’t know too much about Sister Maureen as she was one of those people who worked away out of the limelight doing apparently ordinary things, to make her quite extraordinary contribution. She is a model for us of how many lives are touched by quiet care and love.
When she started here more than 30 years ago, she came to teach in the intermediate department. Then she moved to work in the library. She worked in our library for many years; she and Mrs Parsons together planned and prepared the lovely modern library that we are so lucky to have today. It is a fantastic space, which continues to work incredibly effectively allowing modern pedagogies to develop, and be a warm inviting centre of the College for girls to work. In recent years, she has worked in the archives and helped us to gather our history together, preparing for the centenary. She was the one who would collect articles referring to students and past pupils achievements, and she had amazing knowledge of girls who came to Villa Maria over all the 33 years she was here.
Sr Maureen has been a really important person for all the staff here, as she went quietly around making new staff feel especially welcome, having her wonderfully down to earth take on being Catholic and being Mercy. She was an avid sports fan and loved talking about sports with everyone. She was very practical and like Catherine McAuley, saw what needed to be done, and got on with doing it. She would from time to time come in to tell me if she thought we were getting something wrong. We have been very blessed in recent years to have Sr Monika join us from Tonga, but locally, Sr Maureen has been so much our living connection with the Sisters of Mercy, as the last Sister formally on our staff.
For the Sisters of Mercy, she was a young, energetic sister who took care of others all the time, she would help them with their computers, drive them to appointments and so many other tasks that needed doing.
She had one brother, Brian. Their father died when she was just two years old, so the school agreed to take her in when she was four. Her aunt was a Sister of Mercy, which inspired her to that life. They were a very close family unit. Brian and his wife Marie, had 2 daughters, and Maureen was a loved aunt and great aunt to them and their children.
Once again I thank families for your support this week with the changes to our programmes to enable us to appropriately honour Sr Maureen, and ask for your continued prayers for her and also for Mrs Rennie’s family, as she lost her father at the weekend also.
We are also mindful that many families may still be experiencing disruption due to the fires in the Port Hills. Please let us know of anything that may affect your daughter.
February 9th 2017
Parent Notices Message
This week at assembly I reminded girls about our College Mission statement. That is what we as a community are aiming to do. We aim to empower each girl to determine her potential, live gospel values, confidently embrace life-long learning and as Mercy women be inspired to make a difference.
Alongside our Mission Statement sits our Motto, To learn to Prize what is of Value. It is a big part of what we do here, that we think critically and reflect about what we should prize. Our Vision Statement is that we will do the ordinary things extraordinarily well. It is worth pausing to think about what each of these statements means.
When girls are setting goals, keep in mind what is of value – it won’t be just grades and credits, but determining potential, living gospel values and learning that is for life. All that includes being as good a friend as possible, noticing that someone is on her own and going to talk to her and make her feel welcome, being aware of others and ensuring we make their lives a little better, as that will also make our own lives better. Serving one another in community is at the heart of what we do here together. We also focus on looking outwards to see the ways we can take our service to others in the wider community beyond our gates.
Our values as a College, centre on Whakaute – Respect, Manaakitanga – Hospitality, Tika – Justice. These are the key values and qualities we must embody in our relationships and behaviour. Part of that sense of Whakaute is seen in ensuring girls are equipped for classes and ready to learn. Being prepared to learn means having homework done and engaging with the topics and activities prepared in that lesson.
Respect is important in our interactions with one another, everyone is here to learn together, and it is important that we are open to each person learning at their own pace and in their own style. No one should have anything to say about girls who are faster or slower to pick up a concept, and each girl should be ready to support one another to ensure that everyone learns more effectively. Participating in good respectful discussion and developing the ideas further together. That is the kind of learning community that we want to have in a mercy filled environment.
Families can support the College by reinforcing these behaviours. Please encourage your daughter to be prepared for her learning and to participate fully in lessons. We do want all our girls to experience the joy of service to others, so please also encourage them to take up opportunities to get involved in these activities.
We look forward to seeing families at our picnic, we intend to proceed even if the weather is not so good, the pool is well heated so can be enjoyed even if it is a little cool. The ice cream van will still be welcome I am sure, and students will be provided with a voucher for a free ice cream by our PTA.