Principal's Blog - 10 October 2019
Dear members of the Marcellin College family,
Recently, I was fortunate to spend some time in China tracing the Christian history of this incredibly diverse and complex land. I learnt much about people such as Francis Xavier and others who were committed to making Jesus known and loved to the people of this land in from the 16th Century onwards. Unlike many missionaries of his era, Francis realised that it was not his place to impose himself or his faith on the Chinese people but to live with them, to build trust and understanding and to serve the people of this community in any way he could. In his day Francis would have been one of very few western faces the Chinese people encountered. There must have been times when he felt very out of place. He did have some understanding of the language but lacked a cultural awareness so crucial in developing and sustaining relationships. I am sure that there must have been times when Francis and his colleagues felt very much the outsiders as they attempted to navigate this new and unfamiliar place.
As a pilgrim of 2019 there were times when I felt much like Francis. I didn’t know the language, had little understanding of the culture and often in some of the more remote places we visited, I was the only non-Chinese face in a vast sea of humanity. There were times I felt very conspicuous, people would often stop and stare as we passed. Some even took photographs of the novelty that we must have appeared to be.
On reflection this experience provided me with a momentary glimpse into the lives of those who come to our Australian shores from other places. Feeling uncertain of their new environment, unaware of cultural norms and often unable to communicate their needs. Unlike me however, many of these people do not arrive through choice or for a brief period. Many come due to circumstances and experiences which we cannot even imagine. Experiences which have left deep and traumatic scars both physically and psychologically. Unlike me, these people have to find a new way to live, to survive and to thrive in a very foreign place.
It is good for us all every now and then to place ourselves in the minority. To remind ourselves of how it feels to be different, to be confused, to be anxious and to be alone. This experience reminded me too that it is the small human gestures that can be the most powerful in making the outsider feel a bit more at home. A smile, a simple hello in the street, a person who recognises that you are lost and stops to point out the way, the shop keeper who takes the time to assist in finding the right product, the station attendant who helps when you’re struggling to put the ticket in the machine the right way. Little gestures mean a lot.
I am reminded in these moments of the Matthews Gospel: I was a stranger and you invited me in, (Matt. 25:35). It is the simplest of gestures which can have the most powerful impact. This moment of immersion into the lives of people from a different place will pose as a reminder to me of Jesus' call to welcome the stranger in, whatever form I may encounter them.
As members of the broader Marist family we are blessed to have among us the presence of the Marist Brothers who are a constant source of inspiration, wisdom and example of what it true Christian service is all about. In recent times, sadly we have lost three of our Brothers all of whom had a strong connection to the Marcellin College Family.
Vale Br Bill Dillon fms
On Monday 9 September, Br. Bill Dillon, a Marist Brother, passed away peacefully at the age of 90. Br. Bill was the oldest surviving teacher at Marcellin having commenced his teaching career as a Novice at the original campus of Marcellin in Camberwell in 1952. Br Stanislaus as he was known in those days was a very popular teacher among the students of the time. A testament to this connection could be clearly seen at Br Bill’s recent 90th birthday celebrations which were attended by a large number of past students from those earliest days of the College. Br Bill went on to teach in many Marist schools and was especially valued for his work in supporting the sports programs of the schools in which he taught. Br Bill also had another brief stint as a teacher at Marcellin Bulleen in the 1990’s.
Vale Br Anthony Paterson fms
Br Tony Paterson passed away on Wednesday 18 September 2019 age 69, following a heart attack. Br Tony’s ministry in secondary education was extensive and took him to Traralgon, Forbes, Shepparton, Somerton Park and Bendigo. He was Principal of Redden College and Foundation Principal of Samaritan Catholic College. Br Tony was the only Marist Brother to lead McKillop College at Swan Hill (2005-2010). Br Tony was also instrumental in assisting Br Michael Green with the establishment of Marist Schools Australia. Br Tony Paterson will be remembered as an intelligent, perceptive and creative man of pronounced faith.
Vale Br Nello Facci
Br Nello taught at Marcellin College Bulleen from 1994 to 1998. Staff who worked with Br Nello recall him having a buoyant and larger than life personality. His varied and wide-ranging teaching and pastoral appointments were characterised by his resilience and dedication.
I would like to offer the deepest sympathies to both the brothers community and the families of these fine men.
Eternal Rest Grant to Bill, Tony and Nello Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul rest in peace.