Principal's Blog - 25 April 2019

24 Apr 2019

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

As part of our annual ANZAC Day commemoration assembly, I am always honored to have the opportunity to deliver a speech to the Marcellin Community. This year we were blessed with the attendence of Steve Mason, a World War II Veteran. He shared his time as a signalman and empassionately encouraged our young men to continue "enjoying their excellent education, take advantage of it as you never know what the future holds". Below I have shared my speech with you: 

Good morning members of the Marcellin College Family,

Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to all those who helped prepare todays assembly. There are many, but I would particularly like to thank Mr. James Rainey, Humanities Learning Area Coordinator, and Carolyn Young, Assistant Principal of Mission for leading and coordinating our ANZAC day ceremony. I also wish to thank Mr. Steve Mason, for being here today. Steve, your presence and your words have added significantly to our ceremony today.

I often wonder what makes people stop and be silent on Anzac Day. Whether it be at the MCG, the shine of remembrance or even here in St. Marcellin’s Hall. Is it out of respect for those who served in times of war and conflict? For those who paid the ultimate price and for those who came home scared in mind and in body. Is it to remember their heroic deeds? Maybe. But I think the real answer lays in the words of our guest speaker Mr. Steve Mason. Mr. Mason, at the commencement of your speech to us today you defined the NAZAC spirit as one which embraces three things - reliability, dependability and concern for your fellow human beings.

It is this last point I wish to touch on today. Much of what Mr. Mason spoke about today concerned not so much a description of battles, bombs and bloodshed, as real as these things were, but of reaching out to others, of looking after others, of showing care, compassion, empathy and understanding to others.

Over the term break I visited the Vietnam Veterans Museum on Phillip Island. I highly recommend it to you as an exhibition which provides a very comprehensive understanding of the longest military conflict involving Australia in our history.

In one section of the exhibition there are pictures of some of the people who served in Vietnam, from soldiers and sailors, to nurses and doctors. Attached to their pictures is a comment or story from the person about their experience in Vietnam. Most of those comments and stories did not present details of battles fought or deeds of heroism, but of ordinary everyday life in extraordinary circumstances. Everyday life and the strong desire that existed to look after your mates. Much like the stories we heard from Mr. Mason today.

We hear a lot about this concept of mateship at this time of the year. But I ask myself who are the mates they are talking about. Is it just the people who were their best friends? I don’t think so. The idea of Mateship does not discriminate. When veterans of war speak about mateship, they are referring to all people they served with particularly those in greatest need regardless of whether they were friends or not. Mateship is not a test of friendship or a person’s worthiness. Rather it is a test of personal integrity, courage, compassion, selflessness and dare I say it – love.

So, I ask each of us here today, if we believe in the ANZAC spirit, if we are prepared to stand with authenticity in silent solidarity for those who exemplify this spirit, how are we prepared to live these qualities in our own ordinary everyday existence?

In this place that idea should extend to every relationship, every interaction. From colleague to colleague from student to student and from student to staff member and staff member to student.

Some people might suggest that people like Mr. Mason are a rarity in our society. People of gentleness, generosity, respect and genuine altruïsm. I would like to think though that this is not true. But it is up to us. If we truly wish to keep this ANZAC spirit alive it has to begin with the way we treat each other.

When someone asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” Which is another way of asking, “who is my mate” he used the story of the good Samaritan to illustrate the fact that everyone is your mate particularly those who you find it most difficult to be mates with. 

So, at the end of the day the reason why I am silent on ANZAC day is twofold – yes to remember the fallen and those who served in war and conflict, but equally to remember the sort of people they were and in that moment of silence to reflect on how I measure up.

In remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on the shores of ANZAC cove 104 years may their actions and there character remind us of the sought of people we should be aspiring to be. People of courage, endurance, decency, compassion, faith and love.

I have said before and I say again, as Christian people our task is to bring peace to a troubled world, and it all starts here. As Marcellin Champagnat once said Let it always be said of the Little Brothers of Mary as it was of the early disciples: See how they love one another! If each of us commits to that we are well on our way to achieving that goal.

Mark Murphy