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Uniquely Us: The All Saints Approach to Connecting with Faith

How do young people discover and connect with faith in the 21st century? What do they understand to be god? Important questions that are regularly mused in Christian Living classes at All Saints.

School Chaplain Mother Ann McGuinness Believes that as humanity evolves, so too naturally does its understanding and connection with faith, the Gospel and God. Though, she often sees that young people today struggle to access faith in their own way.

The emerging generation longs for understanding beyond what simply studying the scripture can provide. They seek unique meaning; a spiritual relationship that is wholly theirs; one that is fluid and free from rigidity or restriction.

In this life-affirming search, All Saints is blessed to support our students through a variety of faith-based experiences that are unique to our school.

Happening

Twice a year, Senior School students are invited to spend a weekend exploring their faith in the presence of their peers at school for Happening.

While there are several Happening communities around the world, All Saints is the first ever school to offer its own version of the program.

Happening at All Saints is run entirely by students who are guided and supported by chaplaincy and pastoral staff.

Students of Christian faith, different faiths and none are all welcome at the experience and many often reflect with Mother Ann on what Happening has inspired within.

"Never before have I been surrounded by so much love and felt so supported by a group of people I had met in such a short time," writes one attendee. "I formed connections that will last a lifetime and explored my faith."

"Happening is such an amazing and enjoyable experience, and I think it can be counted as one of the most unforgettable experiences throughout my life. These three days in happening are just calm and relaxing. It can also be said that it's the first time where I felt no stress at all."

Godly Moments

A wonderful phenomenon in the Junior School involves searching for and appreciating what Lay Chaplain Milissa Gustafson calls ‘Godly moments’.

These are where students become aware of a Divine presence. Perhaps they find a heart-shaped leaf, witness a kind act, or see a glorious rainbow and it inspires a feeling of closeness to God.

Celtic Baptism Service

In the tradition of the ancient Celts and surrounded by the warm glow of candlelight, many students, staff, parents, alumni and future Saints (just born!) have come forward for baptism at this service over the years.

It is truly one-of-a-kind, and all within our community are welcome to attend.

Attendees share a hearty sacred meal in the early winter night and enjoy an evening of introspection while listening to ethereal performances by our musicians.

"Baptism is a beautiful gift which allows the individual to mark the beginning of an intentional adventure into the mystery that is Jesus, and the Divine Presence in our lives," explains Mother Ann.

"A living faith allows us to explore the possibilities it offers and expand our life experience into all the possibilities that a collaborative life with God has to offer us. It has certainly kept me grounded and sane throughout the vagaries of my own tumultuous life."

Anam Cara

The Celtic Baptism service is certainly not the only All Saints tradition inspired by the Celts, but it is perhaps the school's only initiative where parents, staff and even school council participate equally.

Anam Cara is the ancient Celtic phrase for 'Soul Friend', a small group of whom meet for discussions in the Chapel circle each Wednesday morning.

Mother Ann explains that the Celts had a deep sense of connectedness to one another, to nature and to the world around them - and it is that same level of cohesion that Anam Cara at All Saints aims to inspire.

"It is very exciting to see that much of contemporary spirituality is evolving away from constructed faith, and back to this deep understanding of Divine Presence as a flow in oneness with all things, including ourselves," says Mother Ann.

"The discussions which we have on Wednesday mornings, despite much hilarity, help us to unpack the Gospels in this ancient, but new to some of us, frame of reference, and to discern what it might mean for us in our daily lives, today and every day. Just where we are."

At Anam Cara, some prefer to discuss and others prefer to observe, but all are very welcome.

Happy Hour

Requested, initiated and run by the School parent community, Happy Hour is the latest spiritual gathering to be introduced at All Saints.

Topics are requested by parents and a discussion is facilitated by our School Chaplain each Tuesday morning at 7.45am.

Service Learning

It is a wonderful rarity to have a dedicated staff member whose sole responsibility is to create learning opportunities that inspire compassion and kindness within the community.

In this respect, the Service Learning Coordinator at All Saints is a point of difference.

Working with all year levels, the Service Learning Coordinator connects Chaplaincy with educational experiences for our school community to enrich lives.

Some well-known initiatives overseen by the Coordinator include the Year 5/6 Pen Pals Program, Year 9 Leadership Camp, Little Mates Mentoring Program, Year 7 Compassion Projects and volunteer work at St John's Crisis Centre.

Currently the role is held by the effervescent Mrs Louise Thorpe who has been our coordinator since the retirement of Mrs Lyn Barker in 2022.

Both were preceded by our first Coordinator Mrs Cassie Carpenter whose many brainchildren, including the popular Pen Pals Program, continue to flourish to this day.

Giveathon

Perhaps the most spectacular and unique display of Christian kindness and generosity at All Saints comes in the form of Giveathon.

The semester-long annual event was launched in 2001 by former School Chaplain Father Ainsley Haldane and has since grown to permeate all areas of the school, with fundraising initiatives happening regularly throughout the year.

Charities are selected by our community at the beginning of Giveathon and our School Chaplaincy team, alongside the Saints Outreach Service student committee, guide students and staff in raising much needed funds and awareness for these organisations.

The 2023 theme of Sweet Dreams: Making Dreams Come True saw us take a journey down the yellow brick road at the Giveathon assembly. It was truly a dreamlike affair.

Giveathon assembly began with renowned artist Neal Joseph sharing how his lifelong dream came true, accompanied by his lovely dog George.

Our SOS and Chaplaincy team donned their best Wizard of Oz costumes, Year 12 student Gabby Pegler sang a moving rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, ballroom dancers Otis O'Dowd and Maddalena Slaven took to the dancefloor and our Brumby Boys chorus performed Mambo Italiano.

To close the assembly, School Chairman John Fradgley announced the impending retirement of The Wizard of All Saints, Mr Patrick Wallas, at the end of 2024.

And much more!

Chapel services each week see students of all ages singing and dancing with joy along to one of five dedicated student chapel bands in a heart-warming and singular display of participation, each ably led by a designated sub-school Lay Chaplain.

Plus, an extraordinary staff chapel band heralds the beginning and end of each term at the staff Eucharist.

All Saints students spread compassion wherever they go, be it on service-learning expeditions to South Africa, or to the residents of Hillview Aged Care just five minutes down the road.

Our community engages with and is supported by a special trinity in All Saints, Anglican Church Robina and Burleigh Heads Anglican Church; a three-way relationship that is as admired as it is atypical.

Our students feed the homeless, they keep our beaches clean, they volunteer their time and skill, they help those in need, but most importantly they hold themselves with grace and they look out for each other.

This flow of love that is uniquely us undergirds the culture at Ƶ, and our community discovers that each day.