Principal's Blog - 12 March 2020

11 Mar 2020

Dear Members of the Marcellin Family,

It is with sadness that I share the news of the passing of Remi Vulich, on Saturday 7 March 2020, younger brother of Louis Vulich in Year 11 Chirat. I would ask you to keep the Vulich family in your prayers at this very difficult time.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon him
May he rest in peace

Last Sunday, 8 March, was International Women’s Day. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly for some, this event has been celebrated for well over a century with the first gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. The day is explained on the official IWD website as. “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.” The website goes on to state that, “the day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality” and has evolved in such a way that, “today, it belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific.”

So, this is a global issue – in fact, as noted by many commentators on the day, it is a human rights issue. Any attitudes or structures – economic, social, cultural or political – which inhibit the rights of women to have access to equal opportunity are totally unacceptable. For our Catholic Marist community here, we have two specific points of reference in relation to this issue.

Firstly, Jesus’ message from the Gospels is unequivocal. As a member of a strong patriarchal society, his words and actions were radically inclusive of women. Barbara Loenhard, a Franciscan Sister, writes that Jesus defied the expectations of his day in regard to women in at least 4 ways:

  1. Women became part of the public discourse when he was in the public forum. He speaks with them and engages with them in the same way as men.
  2. He demonstrates gentleness, respect and compassion in his interactions.
  3. He steps over expected boundaries between men and women by his acceptance of women as disciples.
  4. Not only did Jesus have women disciples, but the Gospel writers also assure us that they were prominent recipients of Jesus’ self-revelation. For example, he tells the Samaritan woman at the well that he is the Messiah.

Secondly, as a Marist community we foster a special relationship with Mary. In fact, we refer to Mary as the first disciple and our role model. St Marcellin had a particular devotion to Mary, and we are very proud to have such a significant female figure as a central part of our identity in a boy’s school. One of the core characteristics of Marist education is that we do things “In the Way of Mary.” That is, with a resilient but open and compassionate approach. We encourage our young men to adopt such an outlook and for our staff, the words of the Marist document In the Footsteps of Marcellin Champagnat articulate this beautifully:

Mary is the perfect model of the Marist educator, as she was for St Marcellin. As a woman and lay person, Jesus’ first follower, she inspires our personal faith. As educator of Jesus of Nazareth, she inspires our pedagogical approach.
(In the Footsteps of Marcellin Champagnat: A Vision for Marist Education Today, #117)

So, as a Catholic Marist community we have a clear mandate to support the goals associated with the celebration of International Women’s Day. In doing so I thought I would give the final words on this to some of the outstanding women role models who work with our young men every day. These colleagues sum up some of the significant things which emerge for them in relation to our celebration of IWD.

For me, International Women’s Day is a reminder for everyone- men/women/boy/girl - to not only ‘talk the talk’, but to also ‘walk the walk’ in working towards respect in and out of the workplace and for this to become the norm, not the exception. It’s a time for all of us to remember our own responsibility in the present, and actively inspire & empower the next generation. To celebrate IWD, I attended the AFLW on Saturday night with my son and we sat and watched the Women win the 20/20 World Cup on Sunday.

International Women’s Day is about thanking God for my precious mum. She taught my siblings and I to always have faith in God. He who looks after us, gives us love, strength and resilience when we need it. I admire her for her strong faith when times were tough for her. Living in a war-torn country looking after her family during these difficult days, then making a decision with my dad to travel to Australia in the 60’s. Having five children by her side, beginning a new life and making Australia our new home was a very courageous and extraordinary thing to do. For me this is what it represents, thanks mum for being an amazing woman, you deserve being celebrated!

As a member of the Marcellin Community, I have always felt included and supported in all I aspire to achieve. My opinions are often sought, my advice is taken and enacted and I feel confident that opportunities will be offered to me to accept. However, I recognise that as a woman today, I am among the minority to feel relatively unscathed by gender inequality. I recognise my ignorance and privilege to be in this position. 
Shining a light on IWD at Marcellin supports our young men to consider how their own beliefs and actions can support a more equal world. I hope it allows our broader community to acknowledge that others have a different experience of the world than we do – and that we each can choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.
On IWD I spent the day with my 3-year-old niece, Grace. I know that by engaging our community in a conversation on equality for all, the path her future takes is less likely to be hindered by her gender. May she flourish and grow into the strong, determined woman I regularly see glimpses of in her childhood self. And may she and her friends of all genders always experience an equal and enabled world.

With blessings for the week ahead,

John Hickey