Happy St Patrick’s Day! This has indeed been a very eventful week with the opening of the Christian Brothers Building today. We were very fortunate to be able to have Archbishop Mark Coleridge to celebrate the Mass and open and bless the building for us. The Archbishop has a very packed schedule and for him to make time to celebrate with us is very much appreciated. We were also blessed with the attendance of 12 Christian Brothers and four past College Principals with apologies from the remaining past principals who could not join us. This was a wonderful occasion...
Happy St Patrick’s Day! This has indeed been a very eventful week with the opening of the Christian Brothers Building today. We were very fortunate to be able to have Archbishop Mark Coleridge to celebrate the Mass and open and bless the building for us. The Archbishop has a very packed schedule and for him to make time to celebrate with us is very much appreciated. We were also blessed with the attendance of 12 Christian Brothers and four past College Principals with apologies from the remaining past principals who could not join us. This was a wonderful occasion to celebrate our past and thank the Brothers for the foundation that they laid for us today through all of their hard work and resilience. The naming of this building is very significant to our College’s history as the Christian Brothers have been a constant presence and driving force within St Patrick’s from the first day and we still have their presence with us through Br Chris. I have included various parts of my speech from today to give an idea of the influence that these men have had on our community.
On 29 January 1952, Br Coffey, the first College Principal, opened the gates of St Patrick’s for 172 eager young men. Br Coffey’s teaching staff consisted of himself, Br Rodgers (Deputy Principal) and two young Brothers - Br Hayward and Br Sayward and no support staff. If that wasn’t difficult enough, there were only five classrooms ready to use and there was no internal plumbing available on the campus. Hence there was no readily available water or toilets. These facilities could be found on the beach area down in front of the College. As the brother’s quarters were also not yet ready, they also had to avail themselves of these facilities during the evenings and night as well until some weeks later.
By February the following year, the school numbers had grown to 244 and later that year in May another 54 boys from the overcrowded Sacred Heart School in Sandgate were marched up to St Patrick’s to begin a new educational journey with the Christian Brothers. Later in that same year, Br Saward designed the College Crest and Br Rodgers chose the College motto “Certa Bonum Certamen” – Fight the Good Fight! And the school uniform was designed by Mrs Donough. The College also became a founding member of the TAS sporting competition in the 1950s as well.
The 1960s saw student numbers increase with the peak number of 530 during this decade. However during the 1970s the numbers decreased to lower than 400 at one point. Over the following two decades the student population steadily grew back. In the early 2000s, the student population in the lower grades was still of concern and there was some discussion amongst the CLT to consider removing the Year 5 and 6 classes and starting the College from Year 7. However, this direction was not taken and the College enjoyed significant growth and reached 1,000 students by 2009. In 2012, the population had grown to 1,175 and in 2017 the College has its largest student population in its history at 1,326 students supported by 106 teaching staff and 65 support staff…..
Whilst there has been much change to the teaching and learning programs, physical facilities and College population, there are some areas dimensions of St Patrick’s where little change has not occurred since 1952….
Br Rodgers choice of our College motto “Fight the Good Fight” has proven to be an inspired one. Choosing a motto is not difficult, but living up to the expectations of such a motto is a much harder. It gives me great pride to look upon the reputation that this College has within the local and broader Brisbane community and indeed nationally amongst our EREA schools for our service and community programs. St Patrick’s has never been a community that has sat on its hands whilst there have been those in the margins needing support or advocacy. This was a strong message from the inception of the College led by the Christian Brothers and one that has been carried through the ages by the Brothers and committed lay staff. It is a part of our story that should never be lost.
St Patrick’s has always been an inclusive community that has respected the backgrounds of all families and assisted many that could not ordinarily have found a place within a Christian Brother’s or other Catholic school for varying reasons. It has always been open to and encouraged a diverse student population that respects inclusivity and the range of views that come with such a mix. But above all else, St Patrick’s has always been very proud of its heritage as a Catholic School and has always been grounded in our Catholic faith and the teachings of the Church….
We are here today to not only thank you for the foundations that you have laid for us as a school but to also let you know that we have grown in more ways than simply student and staff numbers. We are no longer the younger brother or poor cousin to other schools, we are no longer Paddy’s boys but rather Paddy’s men. Paddy’s men are Men of Action who are gentlemen grounded in humility and have a love of their faith and learning….
It must also be acknowledged that the current Royal Commission into Child Abuse has certainly tainted the story of the Christian Brothers through the criminal and disturbing actions of some members of the order, of that none of us can deny and will not deny. However, if we are true to the teachings of the Church and lessons of the Christian Brothers, it is our job to learn from what has happened, acknowledge that it has happened and move forward with a confidence that it should never happen again…..
What also should not be lost in the history of the Christian Brothers is the extraordinary work of so many who were faithful and authentic to the ideals of the Gospel and the Vision of Blessed Edmund and have given their lives for the development of faith and education of many hundreds of thousands of young men throughout the country. And so to the many Christian Brothers and past Christian Brothers who are here with us today and also to the many who could not attend or are no longer with us, the St Patrick’s community would like to thank you and remember your legacy by naming this building … the Christian Brothers Building.
The Mass and presentations to the Brothers was a wonderful way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. I am looking forward to our other celebration tomorrow night with the “Dancing through the Decades” function. I am aware that Mrs Stacey Bishop and her small but energetic team have planned a great night with lots of surprises.
This weekend is our last round of sporting fixtures. We will compete against Padua College. I would not only like to thank the many young men who have represented our College throughout the season but also the many coaches who have given their time and the many parents who have also given their time away from, I am sure, a very busy family schedule.
The “business end” of the term is fast approaching with assessment and exam schedules beginning, particularly from the beginning of next week. I would stress to parents that for each young man to reach his potential he needs to prepare well for this time and put forward his best effort so that the reporting feedback is a fair assessment of his work to this point in time. As teachers, we use this report information to gauge each student’s efforts compared to our expectations of him and also to see what may or may not have worked in our teaching over the term. With this in mind, the information can be affected by young men who do not try to the best of their abilities during the exams or when submitting other assessment pieces. I would urge all parents to take some time over this weekend to talk to their son(s) about how prepared they are for their exams and what else they will be doing to ensure they are ready over the last two weeks. Even the simple question of what assessment is due and when it is due will give you a good idea of how well prepared they are. This information is available to them on their electronic assessment calendars and has been for some weeks.
We are also in the last weeks of collecting for Shore 2 Gate. The money collected from this event is used for a variety of purposes including to assist with some of our House charities and the bulk of it will go to improving student facilities within the school. Currently we are well below our target for this year. Please remind your son that collecting for this event is most important to us. It is the only time that the College asks all student to be involved in a fundraising event.