Principal's Blog

Each week, our Principal shares his reflections on learning in this Catholic community.


Week 1 Term 3 2017

Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Friends of the Magdalene Community,


It has been another wonderful week at Magdalene.



Students performed admirably in terms of their athletic prowess and also their school spirit at Tuesday’s Athletics Carnival. The students entered into the day with a great attitude and were very supportive of one another. Our Year 12s gave their full support to the day and were very creative in their choice of attire and fancy dress. I would like to thank Mr Hewitt and all of the PDHPE staff and general staff for their support on the day.




At the time of concluding this entry the Feast Day is well underway and there is substantial excitement and a wonderful energy in support of the School.


 The Mass was quite lovely and I think it is appropriate to include most of my address here:


 “I believe we are blessed to be able to have the opportunity to be educated at a school like Magdalene Catholic High School.


Indeed, there is much of which to be proud:


  • We are about to enter our 20th successful year as a school
  • We have built a strong reputation in the local community
  • We have a history of strong sporting and academic successes
  • We have very committed and dedicated staff
  • We have a very impressive student body.
  • And the list continues …


Therefore, I am very comfortable to say that I am lucky and proud to work at Magdalene.


Yet the ideas of ‘being proud’ and pride itself – well, we need to be very careful of such concepts.


Pride you see is not always positive. It can also relate to arrogance, selfishness and feelings of superiority.


 Many of you will have read the great Christian writer CS Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles. He once said the following about pride:


“each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. Pride is essentially competitive, it is competitive by its very nature … Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next person. We say that people are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.”


However, there are several ways one can avoid tendencies towards self-centredness and false pride.


One of these measures is to be grateful. The more we say thank you for what we are given - the more we are able to take the focus off ourselves.


So many people are responsible for this quality school which we celebrate today and there are so many people in our lives who have helped us to be the people that we are at this point in our lives. People have shown love and devoted finances, time, energy, patience and compassion towards you. So I hope we do thank our friends, our family, our teachers and all those who care for us daily.


A second way to avoid being proud in a negative sense is to practice “servanthood”.


This is where we are blessed by Mary Magdalene’s guidance and example. When Mary Magdalene’s special day in the Church’s calendar moved from being a memorial last year to becoming recognised as a fully-fledged Feast Day, it was clear that Mary Magdalene’s memory was being restored in a timely and important fashion. Indeed, she is a lesson for all Christians to trust in the Christ who is: “alive and risen.”


Pope Francis had previously reminded us that her tears at Christ's empty tomb were a reminder that (and I quote): “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses [from which] we need to see Jesus.” You see Saint Mary Magdalene: “proclaimed life from the tomb, a place of death.”


Despite grief, uncertainty and fear, Mary Magdalene did what she needed to do to offer “servanthood” and this is a great model for us to overcome our own pride or self-doubt.


Mary knew, that despite the great threat that the Romans posed in her day, (remember Jesus had been arrested, brutalised and then executed), she knew, that Jesus’ ministry and message were critical.


It was she that empowered the disciples to preach and, with the Holy Spirit, was able to get them out from hiding in the days and weeks after Jesus’ death. By giving of ourselves – we are being ambassadors for Christ.


Our work in Brewarrina, our ongoing work with aged-care facilities like Carrington, our community service work as part of Duke of Edinburgh, our financial support and efforts to support countless charities such as Westmead Children’s Hospital, our substantial work with St Vincent de Paul and the Vinnies Van … the list goes on and on … but I mention these now not to show inappropriate pride but rather to say that this is who we are.


I hope that all students can find a way, if they are not already, to participate and help others in a meaningful way. By doing so we fully recognise that the world is much bigger than ourselves and that by helping others we are being true to Mary Magdalene’s example.


To the staff: magnificent, dedicated and really caring about the students and their life chances, you make a real contribution and I thank you. I am proud of your commitment to the greater life of the school - and that makes the difference.


 I also acknowledge the student body: you know I am new here but I really am sensing that you rise to the occasion at these special events and I am impressed by your generosity, your efforts and for who you are.


I finish today with another quote: “Our greatest achievement is to be ourselves … in a world that is constantly trying to get us to be something else.”


So Magdalene students I challenge you to attain yourself, your real and truly great self - just as Mary Magdalene did, to make a difference in the world and help us to be closer to Jesus and preach the good news in our everyday lives, words and actions. Happy Magdalene Feast Day.”


What better than in honour of Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day and the School’s Feast Day than to pray the School Prayer this week:


School Prayer


Jesus, you chose Mary Magdalene

to be the first witness to

your resurrection.

Help us to be filled with the

power of your Spirit.

May we become witnesses

to your love and healing

both within and beyond

this community.

Mary Magdalene


Pray for us.


God Bless


Mr Matthew McMahon




23 June 2017 Principal Blog

Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Friends of the Magdalene Community,




The past fortnight has been a wonderful time for Magdalene in the Creative Arts.

Last Thursday night the annual Creative Arts Performance Evening, Magdalene Shines took place and it was nothing short of fabulous. Many family and community members were able to attend on the evening to support our students and they were treated to a broad range of talent. Acts came in many shapes and styles including various dance performances (tap, Irish, contemporary and the MISA Dance team), various musical offerings (the School Band, rock bands, musical groups and solo performances), drama performances and even a comedy routine. Students from Years 7 to 12 are to be congratulated for their spirit and efforts leading up to and on the night. Our Year 12 students also performed with a number of different dance and musical items to conclude the evening. It was great to see so many students understanding the importance of community and celebrating for a collective purpose – their final opportunity to show their talents as one group of Magdalene students.


All in all, it was a marvellous display of talent and staff assisted in many ways in the preparation for the evening as well as accompanying and even performing on the night. A huge thank you goes to Ms Flick, Mr Mäe, Mr O’Donnell, Mrs Durrant for their collective talent and energies in so many areas and Mr Sinclair-Kydd for his work with Year 12. Multiple other staff assisted prior to and during the evening, so I extend my thanks to them.




Following their successful routine at Magdalene Shines, the MISA Dance team backed up to perform at the MISA Dance Festival on Tuesday. MISA is the acronym for the Macarthur Independent Schools Association – a body which provides a range of sporting and cultural opportunities to affiliated Catholic and Christian schools (schools from Wollondilly, Macarthur and parts of Liverpool and Hoxton Park).


The great majority of schools in MISA participated during the Festival and both the ability and energy on show was extremely impressive. While the Festival is not a competition as such, our Magdalene Dance team were able to show off a range of different dance styles and with both boys and girls from Years 7 to 12 taking part it was an excellent showcase of the broad range of talents which our students possess. Thank you to Mrs Durrant and Mrs Rusten for their work on the day.


While we encourage students to have a fantastic break during the coming holidays we are also mindful that attention to study, compilation of summary notes and revision will be forefront in the minds of our senior students. The HSC Trial Examinations commence in Week 3 of the coming term and Year 11 Examinations occur towards the end of the term. Many Year 12 teachers will be availing their time with students to have Holiday Workshops and Seminars in the coming break and so we wish our students well and encourage them to utilise these and organise their time carefully.


Meanwhile during the holidays, a number of works around the School have been planned. I would like to thank Mr Trimarchi, Mr Avalos, Mr Bayliss and Mrs Spencer for all of their work in the organisation and coordination of these.


Works include:

Air Conditioning to Rooms 1-21 & the Science Prep Room

Electricity to the front of the School

Remote controlled front gates

Additional cameras to the front of the School

Gutter cleaning

Installation of new whiteboards to various spaces

Grills being removed from the canteen


Future works over the next semester include:

Hospitality Refurbishment (with an external servery opening into the Year 11 area)

A kitchenette being added to the Year 12 area

An Electronic sign being installed at the front of the School

Also note that plans and submissions for funding for 14 new classrooms have been submitted to the NSW Catholic Education Commission. We are hopeful that funding will be granted for these with a view to building at the beginning of next year.

It is an exciting time at Magdalene and new enrolment offers have been made to our newest cohort of students – Year 7 2018. Unfortunately, we were oversubscribed but at least a number of families will be able to be added to Waiting Lists in case vacancies do become available.



 As our thoughts begin to turn to our senior students as they move towards significant examinations, the following prayer may be of use: 

     Father of Light and Wisdom,
thank You for giving me
a mind that can know
and a heart that can love.

Help me to keep learning every day of my life -
no matter what the subject may be.
Let me be convinced that all knowledge leads to You
and let me know how to find You and love You
in all the things You have made.

Encourage me when the studies are difficult
and when I am tempted to give up.
Enlighten me when my brain is slow
and help me to grasp the truth held out to me.

Grant me the grace to put my knowledge to use
when I need it, confident in the knowledge

that my best will be good enough

 God Bless





Week 3 Term 2 2017




Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Friends of the Magdalene Community,


I read with interest several years ago a reflection on the Federal Budget:

“…the budget papers are full of real information about the real priorities of the Government. It shows that we spend far more on defence than on education. It shows that we spend far more on subsidising fossil fuel use than we do on tackling climate change … But what the budget doesn't show, and never will, is why … we have convinced ourselves that we cannot afford to reduce indigenous disadvantage, invest in aged care or invest as much in public transport as we do on roads … The reason that the budget will never provide the answers to such questions is that they have nothing to do with economics and everything to do with who we are as a society.”

I do not intend to raise any issues of party politics in Australia. The above for example was actually written about a Labor budget and my commentary in this newsletter will regard the current government’s proposed changes to Education funding. That stated, I do encourage all Magdalene and community members to take an interest in decisions which will impact on their children (and society in general).

Quite often there is confusion and misinformation about how education funding works. For all the media’s various barbs against Catholic and Independent Education, the fact is that if Catholic Schools did not exist the expense to government to run their own schools across the nation would be insurmountable. Catholic Schools provide a quality product and fill a very important niche in Australian Education. In all, 1 in 5 students across Australia are educated in a Catholic school.

Secondly, Catholic Schools are often confused with Independent Schools. Yes, there are some Catholic Independent Schools (some in the newspaper have been named to be receiving excessive government funding), however, the majority of Catholic Schools are systemic schools – part of larger organisations – just as Magdalene Catholic High School is part of the Wollongong Diocese. 

Recent budget announcements therefore indicating state schools will receive over 5% increases, Independent schools over 4% and Catholic Schools over 3% are problematic. In short, considering that future indexation after 2020 is unlikely to match rising school costs, this highlights inequity. 

Furthermore, the Catholic Education sector has three additional concerns about the Federal Government's proposed school funding model:

a lack of prior consultation

funding uncertainty beyond 2020, and

an undermining of the Catholic sector’s autonomy.

In essence, the Federal Government is slowly undermining the Catholic sector’s ability to direct funding according to need and to keep low-fee Catholic schools accessible and affordable.

With this in mind, we would encourage you to consider these facts, speak about them in your friend and        business circles, and, where appropriate, bring it to the attention of your local federal member of Parliament.


We wish all mothers a wonderful Mother’s Day on Sunday!

Of course we must be careful not to alienate those families where loss or separation complicates matters and/or untraditional caregiver arrangements exist. Therefore we wish all who act in a ‘motherly’ role – mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, aunts or other close friends the very best on the day.

Indeed the importance of appreciation and thanks on a day like this cannot be overestimated – so we hope that all students are appropriate in their praise and recognition of your significant and ongoing work. 

And so for your compassion, your counsel, your willingness to drop everything often at a moment’s notice, for the time, the energy (and sometimes the exhaustion), for the kind words for the hugs and for your love thank you!



Mary, on this day when we honour all mothers, we turn to you. We thank the Lord whom you serve for the great gift of motherhood. Never has it been known that anyone who sought your intercession was left unaided by grace. Dear Mother, thank you for your "Yes" to the invitation of the angel which brought heaven to earth and changed human history. You opened yourself to God's word and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Dear mother, intercede for all of our mothers. Ask your Divine Son to give them the grace of surrendered love so that they could join with you in giving their own decision to strengthen the lives of others. May they find daily strength to say yes to the call to the sacrificial love- the very heart of the vocation of motherhood. May their love and witness be a source of great inspiration for all of us called to follow your Son.On this Mothers’ day, Mother of the Word Incarnate, pray for us who have recourse to you…

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.



God Bless

Mr Matthew McMahon