Principal's Blog - 13 June 2019
Dear members of the Marcellin College family,
Last Thursday the College came together to celebrate the feast day of the inspirational founder of the Marist Brothers – Saint Marcellin Champagnat. The focus of the day was set around three important words – Liturgy, Learning & Laughter.
Our day of celebration commenced as it should with Liturgy; an opportunity to listen to the word of God and to give thanks for all the incredible blessings we enjoy in our College and in our lives. The mass was beautifully put together by our AP (Mission), Carolyn Young and professionally and thoughtfully presented by our Acting AP (Mission), Jamie McIlroy. The inspiring music for this occasion was provided by our talented choir and musicians under the very skilled and expert baton of Fiona Dyball, Music Leader (Voice) at Marcellin. Most importantly our celebration of the Eucharist was sensitively and prayerfully led by Fr. Mario Zammit, Parish Priest of St. John’s Heidelberg and a great friend and supporter of Marcellin.
Following mass, our community gathered for an assembly where we spent time Learning about our role in the world as people who reach out in solidarity with those in greatest need. Year 12 student Harrison Lal presented a moving and poignant speech about our place as faith filled responsible global citizens through his experience on our Cambodia immersion program. Later we also heard from Brother Harry Prout about the work that he and some of his fellow Marists carry out in a community much closer to home – the Exodus community in the Olympic Village in West Heidelberg. Brother Harry touched us all with his insight into one of the poorest and most challenged communities in our country and the wonderful people who call it their home.
Finally our students came together for an afternoon of Laughter. This featured a BBQ lunch lovingly prepared by the parents of our canteen and MCCA, a variety of indoor and outdoor activities and food trucks organised by our House Leaders, AP's (Students) and most importantly our College SRC. To conclude the day we all gathered back in St. Marcellin’s hall where we were treated to some highly talented and entertaining young men and staff at our annual Marcellin’s got talent event wonderfully organised by our Performing Arts department led by Performing Arts Learning Leader, Matthew Thomas. Congratulations to everyone involved on what was another spectacular day. I am sure Saint Marcellin himself would have had a ball!
Below is the speech I presented to our community at the Champagnat Day Assembly:
Today is a great day to celebrate all that is wonderful about our school. It is a day to remember that incredible man, Saint Marcellin Champagnat who, a couple of hundred years ago, had a vision for the education of young people. A vision which spoke of making Jesus known and loved and loving them and loving them all equally. The latter of these ideas being quite revolutionary in his day. It is also a day to show gratitude. I thank God everyday that I am able to lead such a great school. I thank God for our staff who are some of the most dedicated, thoughtful and hard working I have seen in over 34 years in Catholic education. I thank God for your parents who sacrifice much to send you here. And I thank God for you young men in front of me here today many of whom continue to make a positive impact on the life of our College. I know that you are grateful too.
In many ways its easy to be grateful. Gratitude though can be a bit hollow without effort and contribution. If as Principal I am grateful but then do nothing to contribute to the life of this College or worse act in a way which is detrimental to it, then my gratitude is false and meaningless.
At the beginning of this year Simon Sotiropoulos stood up here and challenged us all to be holy – to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.
I too gave you a few signposts from our friend Pope Francis that can point us in the direction of holiness. He says we need to be people who persevere, who never give up, who take every opportunity to be better than we were yesterday, to be patient with other people, and to be humble. We also need to be happy and positive in our outlook and passionately grab hold of all that life offers us. Mostly we need to utilize all the gifts and talents and opportunities we have been given and then to listen to what it is that God is calling us to be. The answer will be different for each of us.
Well today as we enter the second half of the academic year here at Marcellin College I ask myself the question; how am I going with all that? If I am truly honest with myself I would say that there have been times when I have been distracted, where I have procrastinated, when I haven’t put my head down at times and worked hard enough, where I haven’t taken advantage of the people, and opportunities afforded to me. I know too that there have been times when I haven’t been as generous with others as I could have been or avoided things I should have been doing because they were a bit hard or unenjoyable.
At the same time I shouldn’t just focus on my shortcomings as I have also done some good things in support of my family and my school which I should celebrate.
So I ask you today to take a moment of reflection. Are you where you thought you would be at this stage of the year? Have you made a positive contribution to your class, your pastoral, your house, your school? Have you taken all the opportunities and support that has been offered to you this year or have you dismissed them?
I remind you again of the words of Francis, who said that it is not being the best that is most important, “The important thing,” Pope Francis explains, “is that each of us needs to discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts God has placed in their hearts”.
I reckon Saint Marcellin always has a habit of cutting to the chase and summing up all that we are trying to achieve. In a letter to his Brothers he once wrote this simple, yet powerful line… "We aim at something better." I love that line from Saint Marcellin – what it says to me is that we are not trying to be perfect, but we’re not sitting still either.
We’re not searching for the silver bullet, but we realise that if we don’t continue to aim to be better than we were yesterday, particularly now at this time in this place which gives us so much, then I think we’re wasting our time and the time of others. As true Marists of Marcellin College we should always be restlessly searching for something better. And as we aim and search we need to accept that we won’t always get it right. But with good hearts, good intentions and good wishes for each other, we might just get there.
So here today I pledge that I will continue to aim to be better, to give more, to grab hold of all the opportunities which exist for me here, to reach out in support of others in need around me, to work hard, to celebrate the small wins along the way and to be grateful for blessings I receive through membership of this incredible community. Most importantly I will continue to pray to a loving God for guidance, strength, courage and forgiveness as I commit myself to strive for the highest with virtue and courage.
I simply ask that you do the same.