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







Week 1 Term 2 2017




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

This week was an important one as Magdalene students and staff commemorated ANZAC Day on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

On Tuesday many Magdalene students and their families were able to attend the ANZAC Services in Campbelltown and particularly Camden. I thank these students, their families, Mrs Forner and Mr Whicker for supporting this most important of days.

On Wednesday the School then commemorated ANZAC Day with our own students taking part in a moving service. This service included our own Cadets marching and serving as our flag party and our student leaders playing an important role leading the Service. Amongst other things, students heard a powerful lament from our student leaders, wreaths were laid and the typical (and important) formalities of the Last Post, Reveille, The Ode and the Australian Anthem occurred. A vital part of the School Service was also the reading of the School Honour Roll by Ms Nancy Russo. In recent years there has been the development of this Honour Roll which lists family members of current students and staff who did and do serve in Australia’s National Forces. Such a list is a wonderful way for students to recognise their own connections to Australian war and peace-keeping efforts – going back to the late 1800s. I thank Ms Denise Phillips for her organisation of this service.

ANZAC Day is not a time to celebrate war but rather a time to commemorate the brave and defining actions of Australians who have made sacrifices (sometimes the ultimate sacrifice) to protect others’, and Australian rights and freedoms. Due to the carnage and savagery of war and conflict, ANZAC Day reminds us that peace is the ultimate goal.

2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of a number of memorable battles fought in World War One by Australians. 

The Battle of Bullecourt is well known for being one in which early models of British tanks failed to support Australian infantry. Despite breaking into German defences, Australian troops were unable to hold this territory without support. As such, two brigades of the Australian 4th Division suffered greatly with over 3,300 casualties and 1,170 Australians being taken prisoner - the largest number captured in a single engagement during the war.

The Battle of Polygon Wood was one of five battles in which Australians were involved as part of the larger British and dominion offensive known as the Third Battle of Passchendaele. As the military record outlines, the struggle that followed was one of the bloodiest and muddiest of the First World War. Indeed, Passchendaele is often referred to as the ‘Battle of the Mud’ and Australians fought against incredible odds to take out numerous German pill boxes to make a significant advance (for Western Front standards).

While not diminishing the important role of the Gallipoli Landing and Campaign (Gallipoli demonstrated impressive Australian qualities and played a significant role in bringing Australians together at a time when we were only a fledgling new country), battles right across World War One and other eras show Australian soldiers and personnel demonstrating their presence, their resistance to injustice and their willingness to demonstrate self-sacrifice, integrity and compassion. This is what the ANZAC spirit is about - it is the heart, the very essence of our nation. 

It is wonderful to see young people demonstrating pride in Australian soldiers and military staff who show (and showed) such amazing courage in battle, emergency relief and/or peace-keeping efforts over the past 100 years. I would encourage families to contact the School if you would like your family members added to our Honour Roll and I would pray that our World Leaders can look beyond their own self-interests to protect the safety and human rights of citizens across the globe.

Adapted from an Ignatian Prayer to end violence, war and death

O Loving God,

We so often, and for so long, hear the guns and rockets, drones and bombs.

We see the pictures of death in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, the Congo, Nigeria, Sudan and South Sudan, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, Central African Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and so on.

In so many parts of the world today, the air is tense with waiting, uncertainty, insecurity.

From ravaged lands, destroyed by war, Your peoples lift their hands to You.

We pray for stillness, for justice, and for peace to come and to last.

O God, our maker, we pray for peaceful existence between Israelis and Palestinians, Sunnis and Shiites, Muslims, Jews and Christians.

We pray negotiations can reach at the roots of historical conflicts and that countries like the United States, Russia, China and North Korea can use words of kindness rather than postulate threats and fear monger.

We pray for a commitment to human rights by all sides and the protection of all lives.

We pray for effective international intervention to ensure justice for all sides.

We pray for humanitarian aid and rebuilding where destruction has occurred.

We pray for peace and for justice in our homes and on our city streets.

P & F Meeting

The next P&F meeting will be held on Tuesday 9 May at 7pm in the Learning Resource Centre. At the meeting we will be reviewing our funding priorities for the year, including the installation of air conditioning, the purchase of new library furniture, sponsorships for sporting, academic, cultural, and leadership pursuits, and how much we put aside for future projects such as the School hall and equipment purchases and replacements.

We will also cover those standard agenda items including the financial report, a report from the Principal, and any recent correspondence to the P&F. The minutes of the last meeting are available in the P&F section on the School website.

If you have any questions about participating in the P&F, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All the best

 David Cornett (On behalf of the P&F)



In line with the Wollongong Diocesan School fee policy, all accounts are on a 30 day basis. Families wishing to pay fees over the duration of the school year, regardless of the payment method, should by now have completed and returned to the School a School Fee Agreement Form. These forms are available on the school website Go to the Enrolment tab, Fees tab and then select the Diocesan School Fee Agreement Form.

If we have not received a fee agreement form, regardless of payment method, your account would be considered overdue.


The following students were awarded a Peer Acknowledgment award at the end of Term 1. I congratulate these students on being acknowledged by their peers.

Year 7     Mackenzie Young - Assisting others in their learning 

Year 8     Madison Lopez - Assisting others in their learning 

Year 9     Damon Elias - Improvement in Assessment 

Year 10   Emily Said - Commitment to learning 

Year 11   Charlotte Maxfield - Commitment to learning and assisting others in their learning 

Year 12   Jason Colley - Commitment to learning and assisting others in their learning 


God Bless

Mr Matthew McMahon







Week 9 Term 1 2017

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

This fortnight as we move closer to the most important period of the Church’s year, Easter, I would like to reflect on two main themes: mercy and presence.

Firstly, and this relates back to the inspirational words of Pope Francis, the notion of the Church as ‘Field Hospital’ is worth exploring. Back in 2013 Pope Francis was very aware of aspects of the Church’s brokenness and the need to emphasise notions of mercy. Accordingly, he wrote: 

“To follow the way of the Lord, the Church is called on to dispense its mercy over all those who recognise themselves as sinners … The Church does not exist to condemn people, but to bring about an encounter with the visceral love of God’s mercy.

“I often say that in order for this to happen, it is necessary to go out: to go out from the churches and the parishes, to go outside and look for people where they live, where they suffer, and where they hope. I like to use the image of a field hospital to describe this ‘Church that goes forth’. It exists where there is combat. It is not a solid structure with all the equipment where people go to receive treatment for both small and large infirmities. It is a mobile structure that offers first aid and immediate care, so that its soldiers do not die.

“It is a place for urgent care, not a place to see a specialist … a Church that goes forth toward those who are ‘wounded’, who are in need of an attentive ear, understanding, forgiveness and love.” (Pope Francis, 2013, The Name of God is Mercy)


In many ways, there is much brokenness in the world in which we live and much incivility or even apathy towards others. Therefore, I believe it is critical that we provide opportunities to listen to one another, to show a willingness to consider one another’s points of views and, critically, to show kindness to one another.

With Easter only just over a fortnight away it is also timely to consider the individual who our School was named after. Much has been written over the years about Mary Magdalene. Many years ago she was incorrectly associated with being a woman of sin. That she was healed of certain afflictions (current theological stances point towards deep anxiety and/or depression) is known, yet we also know that she was a great supporter of Jesus – both financially and emotionally. She was also a woman of strength who Jesus chose to be the first witness of His resurrection. From such a task she then became the first evangeliser who helped to give strength to the Disciples and encourage their evangelical work.  

Jesus would not have chosen an individual to perform such duties unless she had impressive qualities. Not surprisingly, Mary Magdalene is a wonderful example of being present to others - for it is from presence that understanding and love of one another can stem. 

As we move towards the Paschal Triduum, not only do I encourage families to attend mass together on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but I encourage our students and families to exercise mercy and presence towards one another and to those in need. The School provides numerous opportunities for students to be involved in Social Justice initiatives – and these are vital – but everyday provides an opportunity to reach out to others.

CAMPS (YEAR 7 & 9)

In the next newsletter these reports will be written about in detail (photos in this newsletter), but until then can I just    commend students on their approach and staff for being so generous with their time. Events such as these simply cannot happen unless we have a spirited and kind-hearted staff; thank you!


Jesus allow me to identify with Mary in every aspect of Your powerful story. 

May I ask for strength at the times when I am thrown and rendered sightless by the unexpected, injustice, and/or my own misguided actions. 

Give me strength at times I feel alone, lose heart, or am fearful. Be with me in my pain and brokenness. 

May Mary Magdalene be a source of hope. Mary of Magdala: desolate and grief-stricken, rushing through the dark, carrying her ointments, shocked to find You missing, and running off to seek inspiration, consolation and moral support in Your face, Jesus.

I pray that You will enable me to leave my tombs behind, give me a new passion for the Good News, for intimacy with You through Your people, life and service. May I see not an empty tomb but a fertile garden, bursting with possibilities of mercy and presence towards others.

God Bless

Mr Matthew McMahon




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