Principal's Blog

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


Week 7 Term 1 2017




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

Catholic Schools Week Mass 2017 

Last week Catholic Education Wollongong held its annual Education Mass at the Twin Cathedral at Fairy Meadow, Wollongong.

Our School Captains, Alexandra Willis and Bailey Whitley accompanied Ms Foldes to represent the School and to also play a role in my commissioning as Principal. I thank them for their attendance as well as other Magdalene staff members: Thuy Dinh, Chris Whicker, Donna Corbett, Marina Loka (Offertory Procession) and Aimee Boughton, Brandon O’Donnell and Stephen O’Neill who all involved themselves in the beautiful music for the evening.

It was an honour to be commissioned in front of my family and to offer my commitment to supporting our students at Magdalene. 

As you will read below, the 2017 theme for the Diocese was announced on the evening: “display heart, character and passion”. It is a theme which resonates strongly with what we believe here at Magdalene and all of these traits can lead students towards lives of fullness and compassion. 

Indeed, these words were on show at Magdalene’s recent Open Afternoon and Evening. The night was a fantastic one and it was great to see so many staff and students supporting the School and showing off the broad range of curricular, social justice and extra-curricular activities which the School provides. 

Most pleasing was the exceptional pride which students demonstrated in Magdalene and this was very visible to community members and new visitors to the School. Such pride was evident on various tours, activities and/or speeches given on the evening. The School has received a great deal of positive feedback and over 300 packs were distributed on the Night for 186 positions; all goes well for enrolments in the years to come.

The following, written by Tim Hart, provides further details about last week’s Education Mass:

“Yura jauiang yulang. Yura budbut. Bindadhan mareiin yabun”.

The people will come to ceremony. Giving their hearts. Giving to God sacred time.

These lyrics, Dharawal language sung to the echo of the didgeridoo, opened the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass celebrated by the Diocese of Wollongong at St John Vianney’s Co-Cathedral, Fairy Meadow.

From the north, south, east and west; from the Yuin, Dharawal and Gundungurra over 800 staff from our diocesan Catholic schools gathered together to give thanks and praise to God and celebrate the “great learning” and the “great communities” of Catholic Education Wollongong.

With the congregation overflowing along the aisles and doorways, Bishop Peter shared how his life was changed through prayer, how he learned to listen to the voice of God in the silence and the solitude. He encouraged the faithful to make prayer an active and conscious part of their lives beginning now in the Season of Lent.


While we have much to celebrate at Magdalene I am also conscious that a number of our students, staff and   members of the extended Magdalene community face uncertain times. A wonderful prayer for those in need is the following:

O most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honours and invokes thee universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things almost despaired of.

Pray for me, who am so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of.

Come to mine assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolation and succour of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly (here make your request) and that I may praise God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity.

I promise thee, O blessed Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favour, to always honour thee as my      special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to thee.


God Bless


Mr Matthew McMahon







Week 5 Term 1 2017

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

Last night I had the good fortune of attending the Catholic Education Office’s Welcome Dinner for staff new to the Diocese.

A large number of our new staff attended the function (Miss Boulatsakos, Miss Cupillari, Mrs Doepel, Mr Fordyce, Ms Gavin, Mr Quinn, Ms Loka and Mrs Sharma) to have a communal dinner and to also hear a number of important messages about beginning and utilising their time in our Diocese.

Having attended Mater Dei’s Opening Mass earlier in the week with Mrs Ivana Forner and two of our excellent Year 10s (Madyson Kenny and Shaun Rafferty), I had already been struck by just how much joy was exhibited by Mater Dei students. Indeed, it is great to know that we have strong connections with Year 7 & 8 Mater Dei students who attend Magdalene each Tuesday. During the course of the Evening, however, Mater Dei’s Principal Mr Tony Fitzgerald (and former parent of three Magdalene students) was the Guest Speaker and he only furthered my belief about how providing opportunity to young people - no matter their personal circumstances - is vital.

In his speech Mr Fitzgerald commented on the range of opportunities which need to be made available to young people. I believe this is something which Magdalene provides, however, I also believe that there is still room for students to open up to even more opportunities and self-belief – especially in terms of their academic and spiritual outlooks. To have over 120 Magdalene students recently volunteer to be part of Social Justice initiatives, says much – and thus I would suggest a large number of our students ‘get it’ that we need to give back to the world in which we live. Yet, I also ponder as to whether our students realise just how special they are – and just how many talents they have?

It is very easy to doubt one’s self in today’s society but with the support of our fine staff at Magdalene I would like to think that there is even more scope for self-assurance and confidence, so that they can reach the very highest of their aspirations and goals.

A second thing which struck me in Mr Fitzgerald’s speech is the wonderful chance our teachers have to be present to young people, inspire and make a difference. In one of his numerous anecdotes, Mr Fitzgerald spoke about how various staff members had made a real difference in the lives of his own sons and daughters. He then spoke of how Mr Joe Trimarchi, our amazing groundsperson and yes, the one responsible for our beautiful roses, had been the one staff member who had inspired his daughter Caitlin the most. Examples of Joe’s impact included: concern for young people, positivity and being prepared to help others at the ‘drop of a hat’. To me, this is where our staff are very special and points to who we are as a school. It doesn’t matter what role a staff member may have, all have a chance to inspire and make the lives and futures of our young people all the better.

Next week, students will have a Staff Development Day on Friday. During this day, staff will explore and reengage with who we are as a School and look at our Vision and Mission. I suspect that the incredible role staff to comment on proposals to sharpen our formal statement about our School values and “who we are as a school”.

The following prayer (shared by Mrs Jodie Hort) was said at staff’s Monday briefing and at Wednesday’s Professional Learning Team meeting. It is quite lovely and shows how teachers can make an incredible difference in the lives of young people.

                                               A PRAYER FOR TEACHERS

Giver of all Wisdom and Greatest teacher of all, look upon our teachers with love.

Grant teachers the resolve to nurture student’s eager minds and to never give up on students who fall behind.

Bless teacher hearts; for they rejoice when students succeed and encourage students when they fail.

Endow teachers with gentle patience; for the path of learning is never easy.

Kindle the spirit of passion in teachers - it is the flame that ignites the love of learning in students.

Help teachers to see the potential in each student; their belief in a student means more than the grades they allocate.

Instil in teachers a commitment to keep on learning - it shows students not to fear new knowledge and experiences.

Inspire teachers to touch the future; they influence how big a dream the student dreams for 


Bless our teachers who have come before, for their work endures to this day.

Let the light of your example shine upon all teachers:

To build up with their words, to love with their mind and to share with their heart.



FRIDAY 10 March 2017

7.30am - 12.30pm


The School Office will be closed on Friday 10 March whilst staff participate in mandatory training sessions.


Congratulations to Mrs Blair Colella and her husband Luke on the birth of their daughter Evelyn Grace Jacqualyn Colella.

I am sure everyone will join with me in wishing Evelyn Grace Jacqualyn a blessed and long life.


God Bless


Mr Matthew McMahon




Week 3 Term 1 2017




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

There have been a number of events in recent weeks at Magdalene and, looking back at them, it is quite clear that abundant student and community spirit have been on display.

Last week’s Opening Mass and High Achievers’ Assembly was a wonderful occasion and a fitting way to not only welcome our Year 7s and new students, but to also hear from our highly successful 2016 HSC students. Indeed, over the past week it has been a pleasure to meet these High Achievers, hear their inspiring stories and learn a little about their future study and/or career paths. Elyse Beauchamp was full of praise for the School, the opportunities Magdalene provides and the excellent staff we have. She also gave a number of tips to students about making the most of their time at the School and to maximise achievement.

At the Year 11 Information Evening last week Sophie Cornett (Year 12 2016) was able to share some of her recollections about what it means to be a senior student. Through a mixture of humour and well-thought-out tips and study tricks, Sophie was able to cut to the chase to emphasise the importance of commitment, organisation and passion in one’s studies. These messages are critical as senior students settle into the demands of the HSC.

At the High Achievers’ talk to Year 11 and 12, four students (Elyse Beauchamp, Sophie Cornett, Damon Koulouris and Sophie Vannan) spoke to our seniors about study management, utilising support networks, minimising distractions, finding passion in everything we do and being organised with effective study habits - as early as possible. It was great to hear how each of these students had overcome varying challenges throughout the year and how they ended up excelling.

The Camden Mayoral reception for HSC High Achievers also brought together a number of our students who live in the Camden region who excelled in last year’s HSC. Students were awarded certificates by Mayor Lara Symkowiak and our local State Member Mr Chris Patterson, in an evening which recognised excellence in the region. I thank students and parents for their support of this important event. 

Yesterday, Bradbury Pool was the scene of the School’s Annual Swimming Carnival. The House Spirit across all six Magdalene Houses was most impressive and special acknowledgement goes to House Captains and our Year 12 students for participating to the high degree in which they did. There were a number of highlights, including some very creative costumes, fast swims, extremely loud cheering competitions and hotly contested relays. A genuine vote of thanks goes to all staff involved in the Carnival, to Mr Hewitt for his organisation and all other staff involved in organisational roles. Recognition of parent/carer attendance is also made.

One of the fantastic, although unscripted, aspects of the Carnival was the superb spirit which students brought back with them to the School Assembly area after the Carnival. In perhaps a first, numerous students burst into singing and dancing (led by our Year 11s) and our noticeable community spirit was on display yet again. More details about the Carnival, Age Champions, various other results and a number of photographs will be in future Newsletters. 

The next few weeks are no different in terms of a broad range of events occurring. Staff will be partaking in an HSC Symposium next week with a view to explore current academic results and look to various strategies to enhance these even further. I warmly extend an invitation to all current Year 7 parents and carers to the Year 7 Parent Welcome. 

Various flyers and information will provide more detail, but in a nutshell, parents will get an opportunity (in a relaxed  atmosphere) to meet their children’s Pastoral teachers, get a sense of what we stand for and look to emphasise the importance of partnership between parents and the School. Details about our Open Afternoon and Evening for prospective 2018 students will also be advertised in coming weeks.

I once again commend students on the very settled way in which they have commenced the year and I give thanks to all community members for their contribution to the rich fabric of Magdalene.


For all You have given,

Thank You God.

For all You have withheld,

Thank You God.

For all You have withdrawn,

Thank You God.

For all You have permitted,

Thank You God.

For all You have prevented,

Thank You God.

For all You have forgiven me,

Thank You God.

For all You have prepared for me,

Thank You God.

For the death You have chosen for me,

Thank you God.

For the place you are keeping for me in heaven,

Thank You God.



God Bless

Mr Matthew McMahon