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Last Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke was the well-known parable of the prodigal son. It is a story that has been told over millennia and is always open to different interpretations, as is the case with most parables. I believe that it is the discussion around the interpretations that give power to the message(s). I believe that one could mount a compelling argument that the unqualified love of a parent is rarely matched in other relationships. As parents, we know our children intimately and accept them for who they are, with all of their gifts and foibles. When they do wrong and make poor decisions, it is often the love and understanding of their mothers and fathers that supports and helps them to rebound and recover. This is very important in the life of an adolescent. Young men at this stage of their lives will make mistakes and, on occasion, they will find it difficult to accept responsibility for these mistakes. Our roles as parents and educators is to work with them to develop a sense of resilience and self-responsibility.

The story of the prodigal son demonstrates the love of a father for his son who has wronged him and his other son. The older son struggles with his father’s forgiveness and patience with his reckless younger brother who has also squandered some of his inheritance. As a Catholic community, we must always remember that the greatest example of forgiveness and compassion comes from God our father, whose only son modelled what is expected of us. “Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover that he is the rock at the bottom”.

The story ends with the father comforting his older son and explaining that they need to celebrate as their lost son had returned. It is the next untold extrapolation of the story that I like to discuss with students when using this parable. What do we think happened to the father and the sons? What kind of person did the prodigal son turn into after time with his family again? In the discussion, one can trace what might have happened if the father and brother undertook forgiving, compassionate and caring actions towards him as opposed to being resentful, uncaring and aggressive. The actions and reactions that can be derived from this discussion can then be used as a yardstick for not only how we can build capacity, learn to be tolerant and compassionate towards others but also how we can assist them to learn from their mistakes (without blame) and develop their own resilience.

I would like to recognise all of the amazing women that we have within our community during this week. International Women’s Day began in Copenhagen in 1910 and has been celebrated ever since. In 1975 the United Nations set aside the date of 8 March to celebrate this occasion. As in most days of commemoration, the day is used to highlight the political, social, economic and cultural differences felt by women in contemporary times. During Tuesday’s assembly I mentioned some of these to our students. My point was that this day is not celebrated to make men feel bad, but continue to alert us to the issues of women because, in reality, men have the power to make some changes. As we are a school for young men, we cannot hide from the issues of violence, particularly domestic and sexual violence and sexual harassment. I am sure that our parent body does the same every time such an issue is highlighted in the media.

Last Thursday, many of our student competed in the AIC Swimming Championships. I was impressed with how many of them achieved their own “personal bests”. I was also extremely proud of our supporters. Our Year 12 students led the young men from Year 10 and Year 6 with great pride and passion. I would like also to make special mention of our coaches, Mr Blake Loudon, Ms Kelsey Duke, Mr Alex Paznikov and Mr Chris Brown spent countless hours training the young men both at the College and on a camp earlier this term. Mr Doug Locke has also been a great support to the team.

We are now entering the final weeks of this term. The assessment requirements and expectations will be increasing and students will also be preparing for their term exams. If you have not noticed your son increasing his homework and revision time, he should certainly be doing this by now. Ideally, time should have been spent on homework and revision from the first week of school. There is NO such thing as no homework because homework should also include revision from past work, note taking from current work and additional study for current and future topics.

This morning I had the pleasure of attending our College Foundation Small Business Forum. This is an event that our College Foundation started last year. The purpose of these forums is to recognise and thank our sponsors whilst offering our own families and the local community in small business some guest speakers around areas that would be important to them. This morning we had Mr Paul Lynch from the Catholic Super Fund. Paul spoke about the current rules and regulations around superannuation funds, the benefits of such funds and how to choose a good superannuation fund. The morning teas are also a good opportunity for some businesses to network amongst each other.

The College Foundation is an integral part of our community. They assist us financially through our service and building programs. More importantly, they also assist young men from Catholic schools to attend this College when their family circumstances may not have allowed them to do so. What is unique to our College’s Foundation is that they also assist some of our own families who might be in need due to unforeseen circumstances. The Foundation raises its funds through the generous donations of our own families and through some forms of corporate support. This morning’s event was an opportunity for our Foundation to thank our supporters and offer practical assistance to them and local community businesses.

Our sporting fixtures have only two rounds to go. Both of these games are away games, the second of which is at Ipswich. It is most important that all of our students honour their commitments to train and compete each Saturday through until the end of the final round.

God bless,

Mr Chris Mayes - College Principal