Sacred Heart College students take step in faith

A young Sacred Heart College girl is drawing on the memory of her late grandmother to take the next step forward in her faith. Fourteen-year-old Sophie Richardson will follow in the tradition of girls past and present when she takes her First Holy Communion and Baptism next month. Aside from her grandmother, Sophie says the motivation behind her decision was to “feel closer to God and the school” but also to “get a better understanding of everything”.Before starting college in January, Sophie says she “didn’t know a single bit” about Catholicism but is glad she has had the opportunity to learn more.Her immediate family (parents and younger brother) are not religious, they are supportive of her decision.While her paternal grandmother sadly passed away earlier this year, she knew of her granddaughter’s plans.  “She was really excited”. Despite deciding earlier in the year, Covid-19 has delayed her plans. Sophie will be joined by Cara Kuzman, who is taking her First Holy Communion. They will receive their Sacraments at 10am mass on Sunday, November 15. Director of Religious Studies Mr Tom Silverwood said the school’s sacramental programme allows students who wish to take up the Sacraments of Initiation, to do so. These include the three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist (First Holy Communion). Once they decide, Mr Silverwood, with input from Youth Minister Victoria Vo, take the students through a seven-week programme delving deeper into the meaning behind what they are about to embark on.He says at every step of the way parents are informed and encouraged to speak to their daughters about their decision. “I very much try and get the parents involved as well so it’s not just a school thing.” Three years ago Kelsie Hawkins and Tiger Dassefa took the Sacraments of Initiation. As Kelsie had already been baptised as a child, she did her Confirmation and First Holy Communion. Whereas Tiger did all three.Now in year 13, they don’t regret their decision and believe they have grown considerably in their faith.“Even before, our faith was pretty strong and we were so dedicated to fully committing to the Church but after actually doing it, it just solidified it even more,” Tiger said.It was an assessment on Sacraments in Religious Studies which piqued their interest and gave them a deeper understanding. The programme with Father Barry and the school also meant they “weren’t just jumping into it”. “I think doing it at our age is better because it means that we genuinely believe what we’re doing,” Tiger said. Kelsey agreed. “I do think it is more beneficial for girls to know that that’s what they want to do certainly before they jump into doing it. I guess that’s why it was good for us to have the lessons and to be that little bit older.”Both of them would recommend other students looking into the sacraments at the very least. In the school environment, both girls found they grew closer with the students from SHC and their brother school St. John’s College who did it at the same time. “I think that’s a cool aspect of it because it is nice to have people in the same boat as you,” Tiger said.Mr Silverwood has been in the Religious Education field for the past 24 years, but at SHC since this year. One key difference this year is that the Sacramental programme, which in the past has been run in the Parish is now being run out of the school. Once it is completed, students will then receive their Sacraments at the Parish by the Parish Priest."That’s the big thing and a bit of a shift for the Parish just to have confidence in the school that we will do a good job and I think the girls find it easier when it's among their own peers," he said.The girls will receive their Sacraments at 10am mass on Sunday, November 15.

SHC student experiences trip of a lifetime

When Victoria Thompson embarked on a student exchange to Denmark in January, she did not expect a global pandemic and a country-wide lockdown partway through her studies. But the six-month trip during the height of Covid-19 is one the Sacred Heart College student looks back on with fond memories.“It definitely wasn’t the trip I thought I was going to have with Covid-19 in the mix, but I still had a great time,” she said. Victoria left New Zealand on January 9, when Covid-19 was still confined to China and started attending an International School two days later.  Now 15-years-old, Victoria says she had always dreamt of doing a student exchange and Denmark felt like the right place to go to. “Mum has some friends that live over in Demark so it was a really good idea to just have them as my safeguard and have someone that I knew over there so that I could meet them.” During her time abroad, she stayed in the town of Roskilde, close to Copenhagen, with her host family – parents: Thomas and Anna, and children: Ellen, Astrid and Julia in their late teens. A highlight of the trip was travelling to Italy prior to lockdown, learning how to ski and skiing over the Swiss-Italian border. “That’s one thing I wouldn’t have ever thought I would be able to do.”“But when we left Italy, we were sitting in the Berlin airport and all this news started coming in about Coronavirus happening in Italy. So, we just got out that day that the news came out about it,  which is crazy.”  Denmark was one of the first European countries to announce a lockdown on March 11, restricting public gatherings and closing schools, restaurants, and bars, but imposing less strict limits on daily life than in Italy or France.  “We did home school learning for two and a half months so it was a bit strange not being able to meet my friends who I had just met for a couple of months and then being put into lockdown for another couple of months.”  However, the lockdown did not restrict travel around Denmark, meaning that while some of her overseas trips were cancelled, she “could still visit new places”.Other highlights for Victoria included having the freedom to travel around Denmark with her friends, being welcomed into an inclusive group at school, and most importantly making life-long friendships. Despite the ten-hour time difference, she still keeps in contact with her newfound friends and already has plans to go back, or for them to come to New Zealand when circumstances allow. While her trip back to New Zealand in early July was planned, she had to cope with two weeks lockdown in Auckland, and the complexities associated with travelling during the pandemic. “As a minor, I was not allowed to fly all the way home and do quarantine by myself so mum (Kirstin) made the big journey of coming all the way to Denmark and picking up, staying one night, then leaving back to New Zealand.” In the end, they estimate she did about six days of flying nonstop. “We had a stop off in Melbourne and were told when we got into the hotel that we might not be able to leave the next day as planned since they are going into lockdown from the next outbreak of Coronavirus.“So that next morning, we saw that our original flight had been cancelled so mum made some frantic calls to dad (Paul) and the travel agent back in New Zealand but in the end, we got another flight which was the last flight out of Victoria heading back to Auckland for two weeks of quarantine.” She says the quarantine was “not enjoyable but needed to keep our country safe”. “Mum and I had quite a bit of fun during the quarantine to try and pass the time because the days were very long with only being allowed outside once a day for a walk in a guarded area for one hour.”  

SHC Deputy Head Girl wants to inspire others

When Jacinta Fale'ofa Pulu was in Year 9, she never would have believed that four years later she would be Deputy Head Girl of Sacred Heart College in Napier.She says that while she was not a leader at primary or intermediate level, her leadership skills began to develop in the last few years.“Since I am a Pasifika girl, if you had told my Year 9 self, I would become deputy head girl of Sacred Heart today I would not have believed it.”Jacinta says that Covid-19 had made 2020 a challenging year, but the student leadership had made this year about being of service to the students.“We are trying to give back to the students and to our community and as leaders, we’ve just been learning to adapt differently due to Covid-19.”“My role of deputy head girl has always been about being of service to everyone especially our head girl and always pushing everyone to keep going, whether it is helping everyone with online work or just being there for the senior girls and anyone who needs help mentally.”She says that she has found that being true to herself has helped her and will continue to help her in her leadership role.“I am different to past deputy head girls and that’s one thing that I hold onto because I bring something different to the school especially with my cultural and ethnic background of being a Pacific Islander.”Jacinta says she is the first in her family to attend Sacred Heart College and moved down to Hawke’s Bay from Katikati when she was in Year 7. Her parents are both originally from Tonga but have since divorced. She now lives with her mother and her stepfather, who is Scottish.She is an only child and her family is “very catholic”.“I chose Sacred Heart College as my school because it was small, and it had a uniqueness. The sisterhood that I first felt is what made me want to go to Sacred Heart.”“But developing my Catholic background was definitely the biggest part of going to a Catholic school. It brings out all the religious values that I would never have gotten from a secular school.”But for Jacinta, it is also about inspiring students, especially Pasifika girls, to realise that they can achieve success.“I want to inspire young girls to be future leaders and to encourage them to set goals and to be motivated and dedicated to achieve those goals.”As for her own future, Jacinta has it all mapped out and has been accepted to study law and arts at the University of Auckland next year.“I am very interested and passionate about helping the people back home in Tonga and in New Zealand as well. I am passionate about government reform.”And her advice to next year’s deputy head girl.“There are going to be challenges but stay true to yourself, stay humble and know where you started. Look at how far you have come from year 9 to now because that’s why you’re in this position and this is why they chose you. Believe in yourself.”Principal Maria Neville-Foster said Jacinta and head girl Lucy Dinneen demonstrate exactly what it means to be a leader."We nurture and encourage girls from all backgrounds to passionately follow their God-given talents."

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