I hope that all of our mothers enjoyed a wonderful Mother’s Day and were spoiled and pampered by their sons on Sunday. In our Catholic tradition, May is the month of Mary. There is no greater example of unqualified love than that shown by Mary to her son, Jesus Christ, right up to his death. In our own daily lives, the understanding, love, care and compassion shown by mothers may not always be acknowledged verbally by your sons, but is very much appreciated by them. Sometimes we have to endure the fact that adolescent young men find it...
I hope that all of our mothers enjoyed a wonderful Mother’s Day and were spoiled and pampered by their sons on Sunday. In our Catholic tradition, May is the month of Mary. There is no greater example of unqualified love than that shown by Mary to her son, Jesus Christ, right up to his death. In our own daily lives, the understanding, love, care and compassion shown by mothers may not always be acknowledged verbally by your sons, but is very much appreciated by them. Sometimes we have to endure the fact that adolescent young men find it difficult to articulate their feelings and love, but very often show it in their actions. I hope that our Men of Action were in good form last Sunday.
Last Thursday morning, we celebrated the Feast Day of Blessed Edmund Rice with a whole school Mass in the Callan Centre. This also included three other important aspects to it. Firstly, it was an extension of the wonderful work done by Fr Anthoni, Mr Paul Corfield and Mr Tim Kenny within the College sacramental program. During the Mass, three of our young men were baptised and some twenty others celebrated their First Eucharist. Also, two of our senior students, Jordan Conroy (Kennedy) and Will Gallett (Rice), were inducted as House Leaders within their respective Houses. It was a special occasion to be able to recognise and celebrate with each of these young men on such a significant day in our school.
During the Mass, I mentioned to the students that there are two particular celebrations during our year that are most significant to the St Patrick’s Community. These celebrations include the St Patrick’s Day Mass and the Feast Day of Edmund Rice. The significance of the latter is that St Patrick’s was founded by the Christian Brothers, by request of Fr O’Rourke who was the Parish Priest of Sandgate in 1952. The Christian Brothers have had a presence within this College ever since. There are many other schools across the state where the Brothers have had to hand schools back to the local Catholic Education Offices within different dioceses due to their declining numbers. In the late 1990s, the Provincial teams of the Christian Brothers across Australia started their strategic planning around what would happen to their schools once there are no longer any Christian Brothers within Queensland and Australia. This planning included a significant amount of discussion with staff at all of their schools with understanding and implementation of Canon law requirements.
As a result of the planning, Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) was recognised as an entity of the Catholic Church. This has allowed the work of the Christian Brothers to continue within our schools across the country without the schools having to be passed onto the Catholic Education Centres across each diocese. It also allows EREA to grow its schools into the future, if there is a need. With the new entity, our schools could no longer be called Christian Brothers' schools as they were under the governance of EREA. Hence the name of Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition. EREA also made two significant requirements of our schools to ensure that the legacy of the Christian Brothers would not be lost. Firstly, they developed a Charter for Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition. This Charter has been mentioned within this community on many occasions and is available for viewing on the College website. It is an expectation of EREA that all of our school practices reflect the spirit and intention of the four touchstones to ensure our authenticity as an EREA school. Every five years, we undertake a renewal process facilitated by the EREA Executive Office in Melbourne to ensure that we are holding true to the Charter. Our next renewal will be held next year. The other request of significance was that every school had the Senior Leadership position of Dean of Identity on its College Leadership Team. Whilst this position is quite multi-faceted, the key to the role is to ensure that our College practices are well aligned to the Charter and Mission of EREA.
In reality, for our College, Br Chris Pritchard (pictured above) may well be the last Christian Brother that has a constant presence within our community. However, the work and guidance of EREA will ensure that the legacy of the Christian Brothers is not forgotten or lost in our practices. Equally, the naming of our new building in honour of the Christian Brothers is another tangible way that we can ensure their continued presence at the College.
On Tuesday evening, I was fortunate to attend an information evening for College Principals, Board Chairs and Board members. This evening is held annually and allows the EREA Board and executive officers to meet with the members of Queensland Boards and position their strategic directions and receive feedback about these intentions. Much of last night’s feedback centred around a discussion paper on The Challenge of affordability of EREA Schools. This is a very complex issue which will not be solved overnight, but there was some very fruitful discussion within our Queensland Boards last night and this will be continued by our own Board into the future.
I have regularly been asked about when the new Christian Brothers Building will be ready for student use. At this stage, it appears that the building will be completed close to the end of this term and completion should well be ready for the start of Semester 2. It is my hope that we will be able to hold an open day for parents and students to view the building before the end of the term. Also, the new Uniform Shop to be housed in the Seaview Building is almost completed and will be ready for use in the next term. It is our intention to have an online ordering service in place for the beginning of the new year to save many families time in lining up for personal service. There will still be an opportunity to make appointments to have this service and try on clothes if required.
I would like to thank the parents that were able to meet with the College Leadership Team (CLT) for a cuppa and conversation last Saturday at Curlew Park. It is our intention to have two more of these casual events. The first will be held on Saturday 4 June when all of our teams will be playing Marist Ashgrove at Curlew Park. This is an occasion for all of our parents to meet with the CLT and give some feedback about your experiences or simply meet some of us that you may not have had an opportunity to do so in the past. The second occasion will be reserved for our Year 12 parents on the following Saturday (11 June) for the Back to Shorncliffe Day. In many cases, this will be the last outing for parents at Curlew Park, so it will be our small way of thanking you for your support over the many sporting seasons. I look forward to meeting with many of you on both of these occasions.
This week has been very testing for many of the students – literally! Our Years 5, 7 and 9 students have participated in the NAPLAN tests on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with catch-up tests tomorrow. Our Year 12 students participated in another workshop with Professor Terri Bourke around QCS (multiple choice) preparation. I was most impressed with the cooperation and efforts within the tests. All we ask of our young men is to give their best efforts, even when they find the work difficult. It is our endeavour to continue to remind the boys that “near enough is not good enough” when it comes to effort. Not every student will receive an “A” mark in their results, but there is no reason why they should not receive one for their effort and perseverance.
During Tuesday’s assembly, I showed the students a television advertisement regarding domestic violence. It was an Italian advertisement and was aimed at young men aged from 8-15. I reminded the students that the latest Australian advertisements are also aimed at younger audiences. My point to the students was that if we move past the topic of the advertisement (domestic violence), and view the campaign from the perspective of the age group that it targets there is a clear message. It is aiming to address the young men before they reach the age when they may become perpetrators. If we apply this ideal to other matters, they will see that the significant adults within their lives have a role to challenge them on bad behaviours before they become habits or accepted practice. If they are allowed to become accepted or bad habits, then these practices will shape their character and this may well lead them into greater difficulties in later life. As adults, we have better knowledge on what is expected and acceptable (both morally and physically) in our societies and we hold a role to mentor, remind and guide the young men in regard to these expectations. I included the following quote in my presentation from Mr Don Parry, who was the President of Queensland Junior Rugby Union at the time he wrote his Lineout Column:
''Concepts like teamwork, leadership, fair play, code of conduct, sportsmanship, winning (and losing) with dignity, respect for other participants and above all else self-control take on much greater significance.If boys can't accept and play under the direction of a referee, even if they think that they are wrong, then they will do the same thing with a teacher tomorrow or a policeman next year and the judge and prison warden some time into the future.If adults around these boys find excuses for them, like match officials, their coaches, their team mates, then they are leading these boys towards a very dangerous place. If the boys don't learn teamwork and how to do things for the greater good then the workplace and marriage may be difficult places for them into the future.''
I think that there is some very sound advice in this column for both our young men and for all of the significant adults who are associated with the young men as well.