14 August 2017

New Norcia Campfire

This excursion came from the idea of doing service learning, inside WA in a location boys would not often visit, and combine it with some understanding about spirituality along the way. New Norcia was chosen because of the old monastery and convent where there are only now nine monks now in residence. The Benedictine order of monks and their lifestyle presented an interesting alternative world view for the boys.

Arriving at New Norcia, with everyone settling into their rooms, was followed by lunch, which then allowed the boys to head out to explore the surrounding area of bush and kick a football around on the oval. After the boys had been exploring it was time to head to the monastic quarters, where we all to stared helping out by weeding, de-cobwebbing and sweeping the garden.

Dinner was held at the historic hotel and everyone had a torch or headlamp to guide the way. After a fantastic dinner it was time to head back to the sleeping quarters. We met up with Dom Michael, one of the monks, allowing the boys to ask questions including "Why did you choose this life style?". He replied by saying that this is what made him most happy, and this was what he believed God wanted him to do with his life.

The evening concluded with board games, hot chocolates and marshmallows, rounded out with stories from Rev Wright until heads were really ready to drop.

Up at 6am the next morning to start fire again in the lounge area, followed by breakfast and some basic chores. The boys visited the Aboriginal exhibit, learning about life before and after the monks arrived in New Norcia and how this made a great contrast for the local Nyungar tribe. There was discussions about local foods, belief systems, and skin groups and law along with the stolen generations that were part of the New Norcia history. The boys then constructed Maya-Mayas (bush huts). The boys had almost as much fun deconstructing their bush huts afterwards.

Visits to the art gallery and museum after lunch showed displays of how the monks used to live and some incredible art works which led to wonderful conversations about the various pieces. the boys learnt that one of the most valuable art works had all been stolen but thankfully nearly all of them were recovered shortly afterwards. Old inkwells and desks, treadle organs some very fancy clerical robes all embroidered by hand.

Our last morning, was another early start. After breakfast we headed off to a full sung mass complete with bells and Holy Communion, it was a fascinating experience for the boys this was followed by morning tea with the monks and some of the locals. The boys headed home full of stories, all were very tired but had thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. The boys voted to come again next year and wanted to be first in with their applications.

Reverend Anne Wright

Junior & Middle School Chaplain