LUMEN Issue 21 - June 2021 | Page 22


Encountering God through Sanctuary :

SJI Catholic Significance

By Mr Michael Ee
How do Josephians experience God ? When asked to give a sharing at this year ’ s Catholic Educators Conference ( CEC ) in March , the word “ sanctuary ” came to mind . With the stresses and worries of the past year continuing to plague our world as we know it , the Malcolm Road campus continues to be a safe space of learning and growing as one community during these uncertain times . Students and staff can encounter God through four main areas of the school : our physical sanctuary , our spiritual lives , our Catholic societies , and our Josephian Formation Journey . These experiences nourish our faith lives and give us opportunities to meet with God .
Our Physical Sanctuary From a distance , the silhouette of SJI is marked with a spire affixed with a cross at its highest point . Even after the refurbishments that saw new buildings emerge , our most holy sanctuary remains the beacon of faith in the school . In 2021 , however , Josephian students and staff can also find other spaces in the school that , collectively with the chapel , become the physical architecture that provides for our spiritual refuge . For instance , walking by the school track , one will find large , blue ceramic pots that continuously overflow with water , the rippling sounds a reminder of the source of life . Further on , a gentle cascading stream runs from a typographic Joseph McNally sculpture ( metal carefully twisted to form the Mandarin word ‘ 神 ’ which means God ) and into a pool for people to dip their feet into . These meditative spaces have been built over the past couple of years to create a physical sanctuary for the community to encounter God in moments of quiet during the hustle and bustle of a school day .
“ The more I teach , however , the more I realise that it is not just the nervousness I feel on the first day . Along with the anxiety is awe , because I am beginning to appreciate how the classroom is holy ground , a place where I can encounter God .” — Fr Kevin O ’ Brien , 2003 , American Jesuit priest , theologian , educator and author
This quote , by Fr Kevin O ’ Brien , captures how it is of utmost significance that school can be a place that provides opportunities for us to spend time and meet with Him . With the ever rising demands of a competitive education landscape , it is ever more crucial that the community of SJI continues to recognise His presence on our holy ground .
Our Spiritual Lives The Lasallian invitation to prayer is wellremembered by Josephians who have passed through the school since its founding 169 years ago . Today , even though the school community is unable to gather for morning assembly at the track , Catholic student leaders continue to invite the school community to pray over the PA system with the invitation , “ Let us remember we are in the Holy presence of God .”.