Principal's Blog - 26 April 2018
Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,
Last Wednesday evening our College celebrated the opening of the Hermitage and Marist House redevelopment. We were blessed on the evening to have with us Bill Nicolson an Elder of the Wurrunjuri people and his son Willie who provided a moving smoking ceremony to welcome us to Country in this most significant of places for the Indigenous people of this area. We were blessed also to have many Principals from across Melbourne in attendance along with many Marists. Representatives from our Architects, Builders and Project Managers brought their presence and generous support to this important occasion as well. Most importantly many of our staff and students chose to join us to celebrate the blessing of our new and revitalised spaces by our good friend and supporter Monsignor Tony Ireland, Parish Priest of St. Gregory the Great Doncaster. I am very grateful to Carolyn Young for providing a moving and meaningful liturgical experience, Matthew Thomas for Leading our magnificent choir and Sian Cameron and Shannon Watson for all the behind the scenes work they did in making this a truly special and memorable experience. Particular thanks to Adriano Di Prato who supported the planning and implementation of this event and to Suzanne Toniolo, English Learning Leader, Andrew Newell, Old Collegian and Jack Webster, Year 12 student who all spoke articulately regarding their experiences of these new and exciting spaces.
Below I have provided my address from this occasion:
On a grey Sunday, the 31st of March 1963 the Principal, Brother Sylvester Mannes, welcomed a large gathering of the Marcellin family to the official opening of the brand-new Bulleen Campus of Marcellin College. Br Sylvester was obviously very proud of this new facility, many years in the planning. In welcoming all the official party Br Sylvester also announced an apology had been received from the Prime Minister Mr Menzies who had a prior engagement but had enclosed a cheque for 20 Pounds. Perhaps we should have invited our current PM as well! I wonder what 20 pounds is in today’s money?
As he introduced the then Archbishop of Melbourne the Very Reverend J.D. Simonds, Br Sylvester commented on the architectural features of this new facility. He said the it was a building that not only was ornate and dignified but functional as well.
Ornate, dignified, functional are all pretty good words to use when describing a educational facility. They are words that we could possibly use to describe the new and refurbished spaces we see here today. However, I don’t think those words alone would suffice. Perhaps we could use other words, such as, engaging, inviting, inclusive, stimulating, educative, imaginative, collaborative, community.
In developing the Hermitage space, it was our desire to unlock the potential of the main learning and teaching heart of our College which had been trapped in a rectangular box for 50 odd years. Through the imagination of Cox, our Architects, the problem solving and practical skills of our builders from Kane under the watchful eye of our wonderful friends at Montlaur we achieved something which will serve our College for another 50 years.
This building is not only marked with the fingerprints of builders and architects but with the students, parents and staff of the Marcellin who brought valuable insight and innovation to the intensive design process in the embryonic stages of this project. Phillip Rowe from Cox coined the phrase, ‘Marcellin, A Village on a Hill’. It is apt therefore that I suggest here that it not only takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a village to design and build a village. Each insight, suggestion, question, comment adds to the whole which leaves us with a facility which I believe meets the needs of our community. Having said that I would particularly like to thank our Deputy Principal Adriano Di Prato who worked closely with our architects to realise the potential of this project and Nick Moloney (AP Operations) and Phil Tankey (Business Manager) who every day ensured that we were able to continue to run a school in the middle of a building site whilst keeping to time and budget.
Buildings and their surrounds should not just provide shelter and warmth, but they should speak to us and say something about who we are and who we aspire to be. They should be places that welcome, that inspire, that educate us and teach us new ways of thinking. To this end I am grateful to the Wurundjeri Land Council who worked in partnership with Adriano Di Prato, our students and the landscape architects from Tract to produce the space which so perfectly welcomes visitors to our College to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri – to what is one of the most significant places of gathering just across the road at the Bolin Bolin Billabong. More than this, our Indigenous garden educates our community as it celebrates the heroic and influential life of William Barak.
On entering this space, the visitor is exposed to other learning. To the life and philosophy of Champagnat. To the prophetic words of Pope Francis, the science of Charles Darwin and the literary genius of Judith Wright. Our classroom spaces encourage collaboration and conversation. Our teachers become facilitators of learning, guides to our students as they navigate the learning environment.
Early in the design process one of our architects captured this image of a young man who despite his environment was desperately trying to find a place to learn. This image inspired us to create environments which would encourage boys to learn. Spaces like this. Mature spaces, inclusive spaces, mostly spaces which would encourage the growth of our Marcellin Catholic community just as Champagnat desired for his Hermitage community 200 years ago.
I have said before and I will say again, none of this would have been possible without the cooperation, resilience and good humour of the boys and staff, who over the last 18 months have put up with all the difficulties associated with learning amid a building site. Thank you all being here today and for your generous support and encouragement of this project.
A wonderful publication was created in celebration of the Hermitage and Marist House and offers insight into the intracacies of the new buildings. I encourage you to have a read here.