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At the beginning of this week we received the sad news of the passing of Fr Liam Horsfall SVD. Liam has been a part of this community since 2001. During this time, he has had an immense influence on so many young men through his presence around the College, immersion experiences in India and RCIA programs within the College, as well as his many individual meetings with students especially in Years 10 and 12. Fr Liam always had a very strong presence around the student body during lunch breaks as well.

This Sunday Fr Liam would have celebrated his 88th birthday. His life could never be described as ordinary and his work around the world has meant so much to many people. We have included a copy of a paper written about his life on our College website (link here»). I have given a brief summary below, but the fuller version is fascinating reading.

Fr Liam attended the Holy Family Catholic School in Indooroopilly and later Marist College Ashgrove for his secondary schooling. Whilst a good athlete and boxer, Liam's true passion lay in his faith and academic endeavours.

After school, Fr Liam set his sights upon a Civil Engineer Degree at UQ. However, he finally succumbed to his calling and joined the seminary near Marbourg Toowoomba for the Order of the Devine Word Missionaries after being inspired by some of these Missionaries that he had met whilst at school.

After three years at Marbourg Fr Liam was sent to the larger seminary for the order in Chicago … he was 21 years old. After 8 years studying and working in Chicago, Fr Liam was moved to Orissa in India. The largest part of Fr Liam's work in India was education. However, in his 20 or more years there he also accomplished so much more. His work in leper colonies, hospitals, medical organisations and schools was legendary in many areas of India. I can remember speaking to the first students who Liam took to India in 2006. They were absolutely amazed at the reaction of the Indian people in the small towns of India that revered Liam's presence amongst them. The students told me it was like a rock star had hit town. Whilst we all know and love Fr Liam, I do not think that any of us really know what he has done in his life assisting others and how greatly appreciated he is by so many people in other parts of the globe.

After Liam left India for a holiday in Australia, his order elected him into the role of Provincial. A role he was not keen to accept due to his love for the people in India. However he dutifully accepted the role. In 1985 Liam went to New Guinea and spent 6 years there working with the nuns in education. He came back to Australia and worked as Parish Priest in Hamilton until he turned 71.

After moving from that role he moved to St. Patrick's College and the rest is history.

Fr Liam's funeral is being held at 1:00pm today at the Emmaus Chapel. It is only a smaller venue and as such we will be holding our own service for Liam on Saturday in the Callan Centre commencing at 9:00am. This Mass will celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also a reflection upon the life of Fr Liam Horsfall SVD. I would encourage as many students (past and present) and their families to attend this occasion and take the opportunity to farewell a great man. All students are to wear their formal school uniform to the Mass.

The past week has been very busy with student's subject selection information for our young men in Year 8 moving to Year 9 and Year 10 moving into senior schooling next year. Our Year 12 students have also been busy with two full days practice for their Queensland Core Skills (QCS) Tests that will be held on 1 and 2 September. I have been impressed by the attitude and effort of all of these young men, whether it was about listening to information regarding subject selection or sitting the practice tests.

Our students in Years 5, 7 and 9 also recently received their NAPLAN results from the tests that were completed in May. Whilst these tests give students and parents a "point in time" assessment of where they stand in regard to State and National benchmarks, they also give us good information in regard to cohort strengths and challenges in the areas of literacy and numeracy. Overall, our results have been quite strong and encouraging across each year level, with the student cohorts attaining above the National and State averages in each of these year levels. We will use the data that is fed back to us to ascertain areas that we can look to strengthen within each cohort moving forward. The other advantage of data given to us is that it is given from the beginning of the NAPLAN testing from 2008. This also allows us to do some comparability of the data as well.

Next Tuesday we "show off" our College through our annual Open Day. I look forward to meeting with many of our future families and watching our current students show the young men and their families around the College campus. I would encourage as many students as possible to be a part of this important event for the College.

Mr Chris Mayes - College Principal