In this podcast Jonathan Doyle interview Principal Marie Therese Gibson who is Principal of a girl’s school in Sydney. Marie-Therese explores some key issues in Catholic education, faith and impacting young women that are bound to make a difference in your home or school.
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An Interview with Marie-Therese Gibson
What is your current role?
Principal of Tangara School for Girls
What do you spend most of your time doing in this role? Tell us about your work/vocation?
“As the Principal of a Girls School which is under the Pared Foundation I am working constantly with staff, parents and students. I also tutor so I have my own tutees. This gives me some real hands-on time with the girls and with their parents. I teach Philosophy to Year 12: Philosophical Anthropology- or as we sometimes call it: the Study of Human Nature.
I realise that to do my job well I need to put God in first place so prayer and the Sacraments-daily Mass and weekly confession- give me the strength to do what I do. As I am working with God’s children I need to be in tune with him so that I do what he wants me to do.
I have always had ideals: wanted to change the world, was on the SRC for 3 Yrs at Sydney uni etc. This is what lead me to education (my initial enrolment at Sydney Uni was to do a Bachelor of Music in Performance-I changed courses after a couple of weeks). My famous words when completing forms in Yr 12 were that I would never be a teacher! I realised however that Education was key to the protection and promotion of life so I came to education because of my pro-life ideals and work.
I feel very strongly about the importance of women being true to themselves as women not just for their own sakes but for that of the world. I see women as the “”gatekeepers”” so to speak of civilization. If women go down so does the whole of society. We are working here with our parents to help our girls be truly young women of integrity who know how to love in the truest sense of the word and who are generous. We want them to “”be the best persons they can be””. We want them to be leaders in whatever they choose to do. Their personal relationship with God is absolutely key so we foster: a deep understanding of the faith, a sound grasp of basic philosophical concepts as this underpins and supports the faith and we help them to foster their love of God through prayer, the sacraments and acts of Christian piety-working closely with and supporting our parents. We want the girls to live their lives facing God: this is the only way that they will be truly free and happy.
I always say that we are educating for life and eternity.
We have many challenges and especially with the social media so we are working hard with this both at School and with our parents.
I would not change my job for anything in the world. It is a privilege to be part of this School and the lives of so many wonderful people. I always say that as the Principal I have more lessons a day than anyone else in the School. I too tell the children that because of my job I need more prayers than anyone else in the School….Enough said!!!”
What is something you are most passionate about as a Catholic person? What are the big issues, topics or questions that most interest, excite, compel or motivate you?
“I really want people to be happy in this life and for all eternity. My deepest passion is to help people to get to heaven: counting on the grace of God to get myself there as well!
Genuine friendship is also important to me as a person and it is something we all need. I often think that after the gift of the Eucharist the greatest gifts are other people.
I am concerned about the exploitation of young girls and women through pornography, advertising etc…I want to, working with others, to help them to be less vulnerable and to not let themselves be used.
I am passionate about the family. I was blessed to have the most loving family: in my view about the most perfect one could have: united and loving parents, 7 siblings (one died before birth), not much money but much love, a good education, a home filled with faith and the love of God: many happy memories and much gratitude. We were also nourished with a cultural richness: music, literature and a real interest in politics: national and world affairs. I would love others to have these same experiences because they helped me be grounded as a person and helped me to be able to commit to ideals.
How does your Catholic faith inform, shape, guide, or motivate your work/vocation?
It is everything to me. I cannot say more.
How do you think the Church can make an impact in culture? What are the main things you think we should be focused upon in the process of the New Evangelisation?
“The Church through her members can not only preserve all that is good in civilisation but she can forge ahead to foster new expressions of culture which reflect the dignity of the person and foster the spiritual dimension of the person…we are called upon to re-christianise the world and this is done through the re-christianisation of culture. The transmission of culture is a major task of education. We need to foster all that is good true and beautiful in its manifold dimensions.
The New Evangelisation requires that we reach out to all peoples in a capillary way: helping people to understand their dignity as persons, that they are loved by God…then one can hopefully begin to talk about the meaning of life and explain the truths of the faith. We need to focus on the young people having a deep understanding of their faith: they cannot love what they don’t know. We have to show them how this is lived and encourage them to frequent the sacraments and to pray. The parents need to be helped to have a home that is faith-filled: they need the input themselves in the first place: a bit like the oxygen masks in the planes. We need holy priests who can reach out to people. It will take time but if people one by one are living their faith they pass this on to those around them in the work place…wherever they go. There are no quick fixes but the grace of God is not lacking. What seems hard for us is easy for God. We need to live and work with great faith, optimism and a human “”daring”” ie be prepared to get out of our comfort zone for love of God and others.
To do all this we have to help the young people “”unplug”” from all that is not good with the social media and help them to “”plug”” into God and others.
Jonathon, sorry for all these ramblings- hope some of this makes sense. It is Friday evening after all. I hope this is of some use. These are just what has come to mind.”