Newsletter - Term 1, Week 6, 2024

​​​​​From the Pen of the Principal

Dear Parents and Carers

I recently read “The Goal of Life” by Father Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine Monk from the United Kingdom who is an expert in Meditation. Since then, I have been practicing meditation as regularly as I can. I found the experience of stillness and quietness, trying not to think but to open my heart to the presence of God, invigorating but also disturbing. It made me realize just how frenetic life is in my day-to-day activity and how little time I put aside for quietness. I do not think I am alone in this regard. The pace of life today is hectic and even when we sit down we tend to be thinking about a thousand things at once, rarely allowing ourselves the time to empty ourselves and just be still.

I think the same issues confront the students. Life is busy for young people and when they have some time to themselves it is often filled with computer games or television or texting. To sit still in the quietness is a rare experience for most of our students. However, whether religious or not, such a practice is important to a person’s health and well-being. As a College we have a 10 minute weekly meditative practice called the ‘Examen”. But I certainly realized from reading Father Laurence’s book that such practices should not be limited to the school curriculum. Perhaps families would consider setting aside a ‘quiet time’ each day – no television, no computers, no games, no texting – just to sit in stillness. It’s worth a try.

Ash Wednesday

On Wednesday, 14th February, our community began its Lenten journey with an Ashes Service at the College.  Lent is a time of preparation for the gift of new life that we receive at Easter.  During this time we are called to reflect upon our need for God and to address those things in our lives that distract us from the wholeness that only God can bring.

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(PHOTO: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)​​

The great 20th Century author John Steinbeck once wrote: “All people’s sins are attempted shortcuts to love.”  Every person on this planet wants to feel valued, cared for, respected and loved.  We all desire to feel whole and complete.  Unfortunately, as part of our human condition, we all make the mistake of seeking this sense of peace by taking approaches that fall short of the mark.  We all take shortcuts.  At the time the shortcuts may look desirable, but in the end they do not bring the peace and wholeness that we truly seek.

During Lent we reflect on our lives.  We take the time to read the warning signs that indicate where we are off track.  Just as we take notice of the “Wrong Way – Go Back” sign on the Highway, during Lent we are called to front up to the shortcuts we take and turn our lives to the only true source of happiness and peace – we are called to turn our lives to God.  The journey of faith that leads to God takes a lifetime – there are no shortcuts.  As our hearts sense the joy and completeness that our God brings, the shortcuts are seen for what they truly are – hollow and ultimately unsatisfying.

The God I believe in keeps no record of my “sins”.  The God I believe in believes in me more than I could ever believe in myself.  The God I believe in loves me and sees the beauty and wonder that has been created in me.  The God I believe in offers a constant invitation to experience the completeness that can only come through turning my heart to that unconditional love.  The more I manage to do this (as imperfect as my tentative action may be) the more the shortcuts seem hopeless, incomplete and flawed.  The God I believe in desires, not to punish me for my sins, but to liberate me from the lack of satisfaction that they bring.

To take this journey is to take the road less traveled.  But the peace each shaky step I take brings to me is enough to keep me headed along the long road with my heart open to God’s voice.  In many ways, our Lenten journey is a microcosm of the journey we take through our lifetime and reminds us of the truth expressed in the words of St Augustine: “Our hearts, O Lord, are restless, until they rest in thee.”


Our College takes very seriously the importance of the partnership we form with you in order for every child to reach their potential. Part of this is providing information to both parents and teachers to support the social and emotional needs of young people as they grow.

To that end we have renewed our partnership with SchoolTV, which features the wisdom of Dr Michael Carr-Gregg and many experts in the area of child and youth development. This initiative provides access to resources that we have been able to share with parents and teachers. These include written material, videos and webinars.

SchoolTV is a world first wellbeing platform for schools supporting parents It is a wellbeing platform that addresses the modern-day realities faced by schools and parents in raising safe, happy and resilient young people. Whilst there is a great deal of information available, this can often be confusing and overwhelming for parents looking for guidance. SchoolTV addresses this issue. It is an online resource designed to empower parents with credible, sound information with realistic and practical strategies.

To access SchoolTV click on the link and browse the many articles and videos available.

Blessings and Peace,
Simon Dash

Head of Primary School – Russell Davey

I hope you are all well and the first half of Term 1 has been smooth for all families.  I just wanted to touch base with all parents/carers regarding some important dates for the remainder of the term and some key uniform policy reminders for all families.  I will aim to provide this information to parents/carers at the start and midpoint of each term. 

The following are key dates for the reminder of the term.  Parents will also receive an email at the start of Term 2 with key dates for your diaries:

  • Tuesday 5th March – Friday 15th March – Parent Teacher Interviews (Book via PTO on BCE connect app)
  • Year 6 Camp – Wed 6th March – Fri 8th March
  • Narwari Mission Week – Monday 4th March – Fri 8th March (Book activities via QKR)
  • Year 3 & 5 NAPLAN – Wed 13th March – Tues 19th March
  • Tues 19th March 6.00 pm – Sounds Write/Reading Information Session (Campion)
  • Year 5 Camp Wed 20th March – Friday 22nd March
  • Wed 27th March – Xavier Day
  • Thur 28th March – Primary Years Cross Country 

Can I also remind all parents of the following uniform expectations.  This is an area in which we have seen significant improvement in 2024 and I thank all parents for their support.  Teachers have been asked to contact parents directly if a student is not in correct uniform, as we enter into the second half of Term 1.  As always if there a reason your child is unable to be in correct uniform, I would ask that you notify their teacher so we can work towards a solution. Please see below:

  • Students are required to wear plain black joggers with their Primary Years uniform. These shoes are available from a number of retailers in Hervey Bay and are designated as a school uniform requirement to avoid the need for a second pair of shoes when students attend their PE lessons. I am aware that a number of students have purchased shoes for the start of the school year with white soles/markings and I do understand that it can be financially difficult to replace a relatively new pair of shoes. I would ask that you work towards ensuring your child is in correct uniform and that any replacement shoes moving forward are plain black. This ensures a level of equity for all students and allows us to remind students that the same rules apply for all year levels in the Primary Years. 
  • Hair ties for long hair should be keeping with school colours. In others words, matching the uniform they are wearing on that particular day.
  • Smart watches of any description are not to be worn during the school day.  Initially, the school required all students to no longer have access to mobile phones or smart watches with the ability to access the internet during the school day (as per Queensland government regulations).  However, it has been increasingly obvious that policing this policy in a school of 1300 students is both time consuming and difficult as it can be challenging to distinguish between watches that can access the internet and those that cannot.  We have also noted that whilst some of the more modern watches do not connect to the internet, they do have functions/games which can lead to distraction and impact on student learning. Therefore, the school has adopted a school wide policy that no smart watches are to be worn during the school day.  This is an approach that many schools in the area are taking as they are also facing the same issues with monitoring smart watch usage and determining which watches are appropriate. Students are welcome to wear them to and from school and drop them at the office for safe keeping each morning.  They can then collect their watches at the end of the school day. 

As always, my thanks for your continued support and please do not hesitate to make contact should you have a query regarding the information provided above.

Kind regards,
Russell Davey

Head of Secondary School – Ursula Witham-Young

With Gratitude

I have just returned from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and want to say a huge thank you to Simon Dash – College Principal, Reagen Collier, Chris Relf and Brendan McDonald who filled in for me while I was on Professional Renewal leave. I was incredibly blessed to be able to spend three days celebrating our faith at the Congress, visit two amazing cathedrals and three Catholic schools. I heard amazing speakers talk about who we are as Catholics and our faith, aiming to make a difference in this world. I visited three schools that are proudly Catholic and proclaim their faith through action and words. 

(PHOTO: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)​​

I would encourage you to have a look at Fr Greg Boyle SJ from Home | Homeboy Industries and see what this amazing Jesuit priest has managed to accomplish as he has a deep faith and wants to make a difference in the lives of others. Homeboy Industries serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women with a continuum of free services and programs and operates several social enterprises that serve as job-training sites.  His work is referred to as a Church on the streets – on the margins – a field hospital. 

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(PHOTO: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)​​

I listened to Fr Ronald Rolheiser an Oblate of Mary Immaculate who spoke about our resistance for Deep Love – the way we wrestle with God, and the other stand out for me was Fr James Martin who spoke about Jesus going to the margins and his work with the LGBTQ community in America.  If you are interested in any of the talks some of them are here: RECongress 2024 English - YouTube.

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(PHOTO: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)​​​


We are part of an exciting Innovative Schools for Impact Program in 2024. As part of this, Mr Tony McQuaid and I have had the opportunity to have a look at our student data on attendance in the Secondary School. We noticed that more students are away on a Friday than any other day of the week, while Thursday is our most well attended day of the week.  A large portion of our attendance is unexplained (this can be easily fixed). We have a lot of students arriving late and leaving early – it is only Week 6. If your child is absent, can you please notify us via BCE Connect? If your child does not want to come to school on a Friday, can you encourage them to come? 

With every blessing,
Ursula Witham-Young


Beatitudes for Belonging 
In the last two weeks of February, Ms Witham-Young and I, along with 10 other participants from Queensland, attended the annual LA RE Congress in California. This event saw over 12,000 participants, as well as those who joined online, and over one hundred speakers gather from around the world. It was a privilege to be chosen and it has truly filled up my cup for the continued work that Christ draws me to. There were 74 different workshops in English, 42 in Spanish and eight in Vietnamese as well as daily opportunities for Liturgy, Prayer and reflection in all three languages.  I could discuss the experience with you for days, but today I just wanted to share one of the workshops that I attended and the message that still resonates with me. Mr Chris de Silva was a presenter and the composer of the 2024RECongress Theme Song, ‘Be Loved’.  In this song Chris asks us, “Do we know God’s Love? Can we see God’s Love?”  
Chris is the music minister for the Campus Ministry Team at the Loyola Marymount University (LMU). The chapel at LMU has three words shown prominently: “Belong – Believe – Become”.  Instead of speaking about these words and what they mean for their community, Chris asked three students from the Music Ministry team to share their thoughts.  It was truly inspiring to hear their reflections, even more so when one of his students shared her explanation of Believe… “it is a complicated mix of trust in the people around you, in their support and hope that it will all work out in the grand scheme of things.” As a Catholic community, when we ask these three questions here at Xavier (“What do we Belong to? What do we Believe in? What will we become?) the answer should be love.  If God is love, so must we be.   

One of the things that Chris consistently shared was, “Our Christian lives begin when we realise we are loved.”  To love is all that we are asked to do in this world, lives where love lives in us, in our everyday day conversations, our everyday actions and words, all reflecting love.  Chris’ song continues, “When we know God’s love, we will show God’s love. When we see God’s love, we will be Gods’ love.”  God loves us all just as we are.  “God is too busy loving you to have anytime left to be anything else but a loving God with unconditional love for all,”  (Fr Greg Boyle).  

I pray that our community, which was a gift to our city of Hervey Bay may be a community that love shines in and through by our words and actions. 
Carmel Donnelly
Campus Minister  

NAPLAN online exams
All Students from years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will complete the 2024 NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) online exam in the coming weeks - 13 to 25 March. 
These tests gather information regarding student capabilities in literacy and numeracy and assist in the preparation of educational programs within the school.  Each student will also receive a report of their performance later in the school year which is accessed through the Parent Portal.

The program for each day has been included below.  Should a student be absent for any reason they will be required to sit the test at an alternate time, via one of the catch-up sessions. It is essential that all students bring their headphones to each of their test sessions. Students from years 5, 7 and 9 are to bring their fully charged device to school.

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Prior to the exam, students will be provided with opportunities to familiarise themselves with the functionalities of the NAPLAN online assessment.  As part of this preparation, parents and students are invited to use the demonstration site to familiarise themselves with the type of questions available in the NAPLAN Online assessment: 

If you require further information about the upcoming NAPLAN online tests, or to discuss your child’s involvement in these exams, please don’t hesitate to contact Chris Relf ( for Secondary enquiries or Sarah Love ( for Primary enquiries.

Backflips Against Bullying
Last Wednesday Prep to Year 8 students experienced a live Backflips Against Bullying performance. The show formed part of our ongoing Wellbeing Program and addresses bullying in schools through dynamic performances and educational content. The sessions provided valuable opportunities for our students to engage in discussions, build resilience and promote empathy with a different focus for each year level.  The Prep to Year 2 focus was on bullying and building resilience.  Years 3 to 6 discussed cyberbullying, bullying and building resilience. The Year 7 and 8 program focused on power dynamics, cyberbullying, physical, verbal and targeted harassment – as well as real-world consequences.

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(PHOTO: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)​

Narwari Mission Week
Thank you to all students who have already bought tickets for Narwari’s Eggnormous Easter Raffle. Tickets are still on sale and can be bought on Qkr! up until Monday, 25 March. All money raised by the raffle will go towards Narwari’s charity, Caritas. Don’t forget Narwari Mission Week activities will be held in Week 7.

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(Image: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)

Iggy’s Breakfast Program
Iggy’s Breakfast Program is running on Monday and Friday mornings again this Term. The program provides a simple toast, spread and fruit breakfast to students who might not always receive a nutritious meal at the start of the day.
When: Monday and Friday mornings, 7:45am to 8:15am
Where: Goa Kitchen

Dental Van
A message from the Fraser Coast School Dental Service:

“The mobile School Dental Van will be arriving at Xavier Catholic College in the near future! In preparation for our arrival, Expression of Interest Dental forms are currently being issued to all students (Prep – Year 10), please complete this form and return it to the school office ASAP. 

 Please note a parent or legal guardian will need to attend each initial appointment for their child, each time the Dental Van returns to your Child’s School. School Dental Staff will contact you once you have returned your form to make necessary appointments. For any enquiries, please contact the School Dental Administration on (07) 4122 8861, thank you.”


Barry Doyle Scholarship
Year 11 student Emily McGrath has been awarded a Barry Doyle Scholarship through the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS) -  

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(Image: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)

In partnership with the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF), the Barry Doyle School Based Scholarship has been formulated by Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS) to honour the memory and contribution that Barry made to its service over a period of 10 years. The underpinning value is his life was supporting youth and keeping communities safe, so it is fitting that the aim of this scholarship is to address the financial barriers that youth find in wanting to complete schooling and transition to a working life and /or further study. 

We are very proud of this achievement, as Emily was selected by QIFVLS from amongst many other great applicants. This is an amazing opportunity for Emily to learn more about a future career based on providing a safe, positive environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in areas such as law, counselling, social work and community development, among others. Emily will have extra support and opportunities to hear from, and perhaps work with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members at QIFVLS.

Author Visit
Primary students welcomed Indigenous author, artist and songwriter Gregg Dreise to Xavier Catholic College this week. Gregg shared some of his stories with groups of students in the library – incorporating important messages about indigenous culture and the art of storytelling. A selection of Gregg’s books can be found in the library for students wanting to borrow them.

(PHOTO: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)​

Book Club
Issue 2 of Scholastic Book Club is out now. Orders are due online (using LOOP) by Thursday, 7 March. Catalogues are being distributed this week.

How it works Book Club works:
  1. Your child will bring home a Book Club catalogue from school.
  2. Browse the pages with your child and help them choose book/s that suit their needs and interests.
  3. Order online via LOOP.
  4. Books are delivered to your child’s classroom where the teacher will hand them out to excited students!


Secondary Swimming Carnival
Students stepped up on Friday last week to ensure another successful Secondary Swimming Carnival. The event is steeped in tradition and students started arriving at the Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre early to represent their houses with pride. Buthu, Dirum, Kondari and Narwari were all represented by passionate and enthusiastic students who wanted nothing more than to dive in the water and support their teammates. A big thank you to the army of Xavier Catholic College staff who created an amazing environment at the pool that enabled friendly competition and participation among the houses. 

For those interested in the competitive side of things, the contest was close throughout the day, with very few points separating first to third after the morning session. However, Buthu pulled away after lunch to secure their fifth consecutive Secondary Swimming Carnival. Dirum displayed amazing spirit and was awarded the cheering award on the day. Our age champions will be recognised at the next whole school assembly where they will receive their winners’ medals.

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(PHOTOS: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)

Now that the Secondary Swimming Carnival has wrapped up for another year, our gaze will soon shift towards the Cross Country Carnival in Week 10. Dirum, Kondari and Narwari will be looking to claw some of the silverware away from Buthu, who of course secured all three major carnivals in the Secondary School last year.

Mr Feather,
Dean of Health and Physical Education and House Carnivals

Are you or someone you know looking to enhance their swimming skills? The Hervey Bay Swimming Club, based at the Aquatic Centre, offers a fantastic opportunity for swimmers of all levels. Whether you’re interested in competitive swimming or simply aiming to race against your own best time, the club provides an inclusive and dynamic setting. They host club nights every Tuesday from 5:30-7pm throughout the rest of this term and welcome swimmers aged 6 and up to participate in two complimentary 'come and try' sessions. For those interested in joining or learning more, check out the details at

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Cover Image: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2024)

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