The St Kevin’s community has identified four key values that specifically mark it as a Catholic community in the South Island of New Zealand. The four key values are: Family | Integrity | Respect | Excellence
The core values of St Kevin’s together form FIRE. There are many images of “fire” in the Holy Scripture. Fire is essential for life; all life on the planet is dependent upon our Sun. Many seeds only release their life after an experience of fire. Often things of great beauty — such as a diamond or gold or pottery, come out of fire. Down through history human beings have gathered around fire, shared story and found their way home because of light; because of fire. At Pentecost the “fire” of God’s spirit descended upon the believers and gave them courage to be “good news” for our world.
The St Kevin’s community is on a journey. Like the early Jewish community we too journey towards the Promised Land; a land/a time of justice and peace, reconciliation and respect, love and celebration of the dignity of all. Like all journeys we often walk in darkness; through times of dark — of hope lost, of dreams shattered, of apparently overwhelming odds stacked against us. The book of Genesis and Exodus follow the journey of Moses and the chosen people to freedom in the land of Canaan. On this journey which (metaphorically) took forty years to wandering in the desert — the people of God were surely tested — just as we will be. On this journey Yahweh their God never left them, never abandoned them. Yahweh went before them — as Yahweh does for the St Kevin’s community today — as a; Pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night!
As Fire people, the members of the St Kevin’s community strive to live the ideals set before us by the Gospels and the example of the lives of Dominic and Edmund.
“Yahweh preceded them, by day in a pillar of cloud to show
them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them
light, so that they could march by day and night. The pillar
of cloud never left its place ahead of the people during the
day, nor the pillar of fire during the night”
As people of fire, members of the St Kevin’s community seek to build a deep sense of family. Families are
places of welcome and acceptance, of care and shared responsibility. A family centred on the Gospel of Jesus will be characterised by service for “the son of man came not to be served but to serve” (Mt 20: 24-28). St Paul when writing to the people of Rome exhorted them to be a community of care and compassion. Paul named the differing gifts that we each bring to the life of the family and invites us to use these gifts (whether they be teaching, encouraging, practical service, leadership and more) for the service of all (Romans 12:3-13). Ultimately St Paul, when writing to the small Christian community in Ephesus encouraged them to lead lives worthy of their noble vocation (their calling) to be people of love for our
world. Each of us in the St Kevin’s community is called to support each other in love; to be “as family” to each other. This will ask much humility and patience, will be seen in gentleness and will be born out in great peace and unity.
Ephesians 4:1-6 Support each other in Love
“I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to lead a life
worthy of the vocation to which you were called. With all
humility and gentleness, and with patience, support each
other in love. Take every care to preserve the unity of the
Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one
Body, one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling
by God. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one
God and Father of all, over all, through all and within all.”
Fire people are people of integrity. We live in and educate for a world that is being torn apart by greed. The evils of poverty and war, violence and abuse, isolation and anger, hatred and rejection appear at times to be all around us. The temptation to be weak, to stand for nothing, to let go of our cherished ideals and values are strong. Members of a community such as St Kevin’s are challenged to be women and men of integrity in the face of all of this. Like “fire within the night” the St Kevin’s person encourages, inspires, affirms and brings hope through their daily small choices to be people of integrity. Integrity shows itself in honesty, in the truth that Dominic so personified, in selflessness and in right living. When we strive to live lives of integrity we are like Jesus who made; “a deep impression on them (the people) because, unlike the scribes, he taught with authority!” (Mark 1:21-28) Integrity is that inner authority that leads others to stop and listen, to admire and aspire to. The person of integrity, like the prophet Micah — knows that our God does not want superficial offerings but wants us to give back from the heart. People of integrity are called to “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with their God” (Micah 6:8)
Matthew 7:24-27 Built on Rock
“Therefore anyone who listens to these words of mine and
acts on them will be like a sensible person who built their
house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew
and burled themselves against that house, and it did not
fall; it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to
these words of mine and does not act on them will be like
a stupid person who built their house on sand. Rain came
down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it
fell and what a fall it had.”
Fire people are people of respect. The word respect comes from the Latin “respecere” which means to “look again”. When one “looks again” we truly see, we see past the labels, we see past the negatives to the “gift” beyond. Core to our Catholic Christian life is a profound belief in the innate dignity of every person. This belief is core to our education. Education comes for the Latin “educare” which means to liberate. Our education here at St Kevin’s attempts to form students to have eyes of respect; for self and others. As
a Christ centred community in the spirit of Dominic and Edmund we are inwardly supportive (our pastoral care programs) but outwardly looking to the society that we educate for. St Kevin’s strives to form its students in a spirit of service and of mission. Like the Samaritan in Luke’s story we do not only reach out to those who give to us. The Samaritans lived in a society where they were not given respect yet in Jesus’ story the Samaritan crosses the road and treats the broken and rejected one with compassion and
profound respect. Our mission of service is based on our belief in the innate dignity of every person regardless of culture or creed, status or profession, life story or circumstance. Each and every person is a totally unconditionally loved son or daughter of God. It is this belief that leads members of the St Kevin’s community to “sense” the Holy Ground of each person that they meet. Moses was invited to “take off his sandals for the ground upon which he walked was holy”. So each of us is invited to come to each person we meet with the profound belief and expectation that that meeting will be holy ground — will be sacred — will be an exchange of dignity and giftedness.
Exodus 3:1-6 This is Holy Ground
“Moses was looking after the flock of his father-in-law
Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led it to the far side of the
desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel
of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame blazing from the
middle of a bush. Moses looked; there was the bush blazing,
but the bush was not being burnt up. Moses said, “I must go
across and see this strange sight, and why the bush is not
being burnt up”. When Yahweh saw him going across to
look, God called to him from the middle of the bush. Moses,
Moses! He said, “Here I am” he answered. Come no nearer,
he said, “take off your sandals, for the place where you are
standing is holy ground!”
Of all the core values of St Kevin’s excellence is the one that demands relative attention. All good schools strive for excellence. As a Catholic community of Special Character St Kevin’s strives for a particular kind of excellence. At St Kevin’s each student is encouraged to become a leader; to become THE best ME they can possibly be. Each St Kevin’s student is encouraged to discover in the life of the community what their particular talents and gifts are and to develop them to the full. For both Dominic and Edmund Rice their search for truth and compassion led them to true freedom. So too the true journey to excellence will lead to an inner freedom; a freedom for, a freedom to. Truly, they who excel — who grow to be the best they can possibly be — will soar like the eagles. Truly those who go beyond self-imposed limits or the labels of others will discover a strength they did not know they had. For the fire people of St Kevin’s community know that in their pursuit of excellence they do not walk alone — that their brothers and sisters of the St Kevin’s community also know that their God walks beside them — a pillar of fire in the night and a cloud by day. As people of fire they will dare to put out wings — like eagles — they will run and not grow weary, walk and never tire.