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God found in many wonderful places

Miraculous: A student from St Pius witnesses the wonder of God in a sunrise
“I HAVE never felt closer to God than I did that day.”

One Year 7 student’s response to a Dawn to Dusk retreat she took part in as part of an environmental sustainability unit at St Pius Primary School, Banyo.

The day began for students at 5.30am at Nudgee Beach where, in silent meditation, the class watched the sunrise in all its wonder. 

For 30 minutes students sat in silence, holding prayer stones, repeating mantras and silently and personally spending time in prayer with God.

After a barbeque breakfast the bus, driven by Principal Peter Surawski, headed off to a fishing ramp where students took time to “stop and see”, “stay and wait”, “rest and listen” and then “personally respond” in their personal journals. 

Next stop “Walkabout Creek” at The Gap where students walked 5km through the bush.

Again in their journals students challenged themselves on their steps to environmental sustainability. 

A visit to the wildlife centre also allowed them to see God’s creation in the many animals they saw and touched, including the Kangaroos, which was a highlight for many.

Making prayer beads and writing prayers for a liturgy was again another chance for students to experience their God in another way.

Year 7 Teacher Louise Olley said the aim of the retreat was to look at God’s gift of creation and ensure students became stewards of this creation to ensure environmental sustainability.

“Trying to decrease our carbon footprint and find positive ways of changing our lifestyles and habits was another focus,” she said.

“For this to really impact on the students in a way that they would bring about changes in themselves, it was important that they had some personal connection with nature and a sense of the sacred within the creation around them.”

Ms Olley said the journey continued up Mt Coo-tha as the city’s lights began to glow and the weary students looked forward to witnessing a sunset.

She said within the bushland as they watched the sun disappear behind the trees, left with only rays of light shining through in some places, the silence and stillness was amazing. 

“To watch and see them in their own place and space told us they had really felt the deep presence of God and had a new understanding and appreciation for the world in which they are truly blessed to have. 

“Their acknowledgement of the need to protect this gift was now in their hearts.”

Ms Olley said sharing pizza and laughter while sitting on the top of Mt-Coo-tha looking back over Brisbane in all its beauty was magical.

She said the students really appreciated the opportunity to have some time out to spend in prayer. 

“Some time to really look at the impact they are making on the world and what they can do to ensure that their footprint, is a positive one.

“And they really appreciated Mr Surawski and their teachers sharing the day with them, driving the bus around and catering to their every need,” she said. 

Brisbane Catholic Education Office

243 Gladstone Road, Dutton Park Q 4102

GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia

Phone: (07) 3033 7000

Fax: (07) 3844 5101