FOR the second year in a row, senior students at St Peter Claver College, Riverview, have spent time getting to know and contributing to the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg.
The group of 19 Year 12 students and four staff arrived in the community with the aim of assisting with the restoration of the St Peter Claver Chapel: building meaningful connections with the Cherbourg community and broadening the student's awareness of Aboriginal culture and history.
Claver-Cherbourg Partnership co-ordinator Pat Webster said the purpose of this year's trip turned out to be a serendipitous one.
Mr Webster said Uncle Eric (Law) came to him with the suggestion of doing some restoration and beautification works at the community's St Peter Claver Chapel.
He said it couldn't have been a more fitting project given the shared namesake.
“We set out to give the front of the chapel a facelift and we succeeded in that.
“The students felt part of something bigger than themselves.
“But what really hit home for me was the students fearing they wouldn't have enough time to get the job done."
“That showed me they were really invested in the task and as a result we saw them all get stuck in, work well as teams and gain some real-world construction experience," he said.
Wakka Wakka Elder Uncle Eric Law said the Cherbourg community was incredibly appreciative of the helping hands.
“The work that the Claver students have done at our Catholic church will be so much appreciated, not only by our Catholic community, but it will also be appreciated by our other church groups as well. And as a community in general."
“They will see that it only takes a small group of people to come up and do something and that will change how this community operates."
“I have no doubt in my mind that the work that you did at St Peter Claver Chapel here in Cherbourg will be remembered for a long, long time," Uncle Eric said.
Students refresh the front of St Peter Claver Chapel with a new coat of paint
Year 12 Construction student Thomas Duhig said his initial expectations of the experience were far surpassed by the reality.
“I just expected to be building all day. We did that but applying our construction knowledge to a real-world setting and moving away from simulated tasks was a great way to build up and apply our skills."
“It was also rewarding knowing it was for an important purpose."
“But what I also got from the trip was a much better understanding of the effects of Australian colonialism on Aboriginal people, especially in Queensland," Thomas said.
Mr Webster and Mr Law both look forward to a long partnership between the College and the town.
“Our plan for the future is to continue to contribute to the Chapel in whatever way is needed, continuing to collaborate with the Community Elders and Parish Priest as part of this process," Pat said.
“I see it working as we become a part of the Peter Claver family and the Peter Claver family become a part of our family," Uncle Eric said.
Brisbane Catholic Education Office
2A Burke Street, Woolloongabba Qld 4102 Australia
Turrbal and Yuggera Country
GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia
Phone: (07) 3033 7000
Fax: (07) 3844 5101