In light of all the disruption in the world at present, Sacred Heart College students gathered together to pray for peace and reconciliation.
Year 13 student Ana Worthington organised the event, with the guidance and encouragement of principal Maria Neville Foster.
Having seen coverage of the murder of black American man George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests on the news and social media, Ana thought it was important to stand in solidarity.
“I think when people are being treated badly or you can see that people’s human rights are being denied right in front of your eyes and it’s so publicised, it’s important we don’t ignore that.”
“It is important for us in New Zealand to recognise that while it may not be our own direct issue, it is something that we could address in our school community and make people aware of it.”
While people tend to believe it “doesn’t happen here”, Anna says it does. “We must recognise that so it doesn’t get swept under the carpet.”
The event was held on Friday at the school’s Mission Centre with about 50 students. Mrs Neville-Foster, Ana, Head Girl Lucy Dinneen and a couple of other student leaders spoke.
Rather than “forcing everyone into a room to listen” they decided to let people “come of their own accord”.
Ana said she was “impressed” by the number of students who attended because it showed that “people actually wanted to show their support”.
She spoke about how it was “important for us to stand in solidarity for people who are experiencing hardships and injustices”.
Education is a key part of moving forward, she believes. “We need to be more focused on education towards those issues and make sure we are aware of the things going on in our world and being supportive of that and not ignorant.”
“Having those tough conversations is necessary to gain awareness around issues like this.”
As faith is “important” not only for the school but for the students and teachers, Ana said it was vital they prayed for the world.
Mrs Neville-Foster said: “As a Catholic faith community the Pope called us to come together to pray for reconciliation and peace”.
With the Pope’s directive and Romans 12:21 scripture which says ‘do not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good’, Mrs Neville-Foster believes it was the best response for them as a community.
“I was quite proud of our senior girls because they came to me feeling strongly about the Black Lives Matter movement and they wanted to do something to show their solidarity.
“We teach the principles of catholic teachings and one of them is solidarity and standing together to support those who are marginalised, oppressed, or are treated inhumanely, so we were acting this out on that day.”
Ana hopes to keep important conversations alive and hold more events. “I think it is important to keep it alive because change doesn’t just happen over the span of a week, it’s going to take a long time so if we can implement things like that into our society it would be a good idea.”