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On 8th September, Bishop Michael McKenna led a liturgy in the Mother Ignatius Croke Centre, in the Cathedral Precinct, Bathurst, attended by representatives of schools from across the Diocese. The occasion was the launch of the annual Diocesan Christmas Story and Art Exhibition. Mr Dane Fitzpatrick REC from Holy Family School, Kelso was the MC, and Ms Paula Jackson and the choir from Holy Family provided the music for the liturgy. Morning tea followed the liturgy and gave everyone a chance to view all the entries, which were beautifully displayed around the hall.

Established in the Archdiocese of Sydney in 2005, the Diocese of Bathurst began its own competition in 2012. Today the Christmas Storytelling Art Competition and Exhibition is an annual event open to Year 5 and Year 6 students in the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Dioceses of Wollongong and Bathurst, and Catholic students in Government schools. Award winners from the individual diocesan competitions form the combined Competition/Exhibition in Sydney.

Every year, hundreds of artworks are submitted and shortlisted by a team of professional artists and teaching specialists. Winners are announced at a ceremony and the shortlisted works are displayed at the University of Notre Dame during Advent.

Students reflect on the Sacred Scriptures surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. Through personal conversation with God in prayer, students make connections to their own life and share these life experiences through a creative artwork. The Diocese of Bathurst had a record number of entries this year and the standard was very high indeed, with students utilising a myriad of mediums to share the beauty of creativity, depth of spiritual reflection, and uniqueness of self-expression.

Over 30 awards, in various categories, were presented at the Bathurst Exhibition. Another highlight of the day was the presentation of a beautiful Bible to each winner. These Bibles have been specially commissioned by the Diocese of Bathurst, with the intention of providing them to the children

of our schools preparing for Confirmation, and contain messages from Bishop McKenna and Mrs Christina Trimble, the Executive Director of Schools.

As well as the amazing work of the artists, a lot of work is done behind the scenes by Catholic Education Diocese of Bathurst to ensure the success of the Competition and Exhibition. Ms Donna Mitchell (Visual Arts Teacher at MacKillop College, Bathurst and the Leader of Teaching and Learning at La Salle Academy, Lithgow) had the very difficult task of judging most of the categories. Particular thanks and credit must go to Dr Amber Calleja and Mr Glenn Corbin, who not only workshopped with the students but also collated, categorised and photographed the entries, and arranged the judges, the liturgy and the exhibition; an enormous job given the large amount of entries.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this magnificent endeavour!

Fiona Lewis