Principal's Blog - 5 December 2019

02 Dec 2019

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

This is the last time I will write to you as Principal of this great school. Over the past 11 years I have been blessed to serve this community. It has been a blessing due to the warmth and generosity of so many people in our community that it would be impossible to list them in this space. Each week during my time at Marcellin I have attempted to write something in this space which would provide you with my observations and insights concerning the day to day activities of our College. Often on a Sunday when I write this column I wonder whether my jottings are useful, relevant or connecting with our community. I have been humbled often by the thoughtful and positive feedback I have received from many of you which has been of tremendous encouragement. So to all of those who have read my articles and who have been so supportive of me in your feedback, I say thank you.

In my first newsletter written back in 2009, I commented on the many wonderful things I had seen in my first week in the school. I said… Each of these observations confirm for me that Marcellin College is a vibrant, engaging and healthy educational and faith community. It is my hope that I can support Marcellin College as it continues to provide the best possible education for boys in mind, body and spirit and that together we can support our boys to become what St. Marcellin Champagnat hoped for his boys…
To become Good Christians and Good Citizens

Nothing has changed. My observations still confirm that Marcellin is all of these things and more. What is also clear is that this has been achieved together. Marcellin is the school that it is today because of the partnership that exists between parent and school. Your sons are the beneficiaries of this partnership and I for one are extremely grateful to all our parents and staff who have nurtured and grown this partnership over my time here.

Thank you for the trust you have placed in me to serve Marcellin and I wish you and your families all the very best in the years ahead. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

Below I have provided my speech from the final mass and assembly for this year which best sums up all I feel about this wonderful place.

Good morning members of the Marcellin College community. It is great to be here with you as we celebrate the year that has been and look forward to what is to come. You may have noticed over the years I have begun each address to this community with the same phrase, “It is great to be here with you”. I say that because it is true. Everyday at Marcellin over the last, almost 11 years, it has been great to be here. I have always felt a humbling sense of privilege to have been given the opportunity to serve you as Principal of this incredible school and every day I have come away from this school with a deep sense of gratitude for being able to support our faith learning community.

I often reflect on why I find this such a great place to be. Perhaps it is our beautiful location, facilities and grounds. How blessed we all are to learn and work in this amazing place which our grounds, maintenance and cleaning staff look after with such care.

Perhaps it is because of the dedicated and skilled people who work here everyday with the sole aim of ensuring that you have a positive and productive experience of school.

It has to be also because of your parents who everyday place their trust in us to provide you with a great education and assist you in becoming the amazing young men you are destined to be.

It has to be also because of you boys who have inspired me, given me energy, have been so warm, friendly and most of all, kind.

I think that’s the key for me as to why I have loved this place so much. It is the kindness that I have received from so many that will be the characteristic of the Marcellin which I will always remember.

On the very first day I came to Marcellin on the 20th of April 2009 I was very nervous. How could I possibly be the Principal of this place which enjoyed such a strong reputation in education in this city? These feelings of anxiety grew as I stepped out of my car. At the same time another person stepped out of his car and approached me. He asked who I was, when I told him I was the new Principal, he stepped back and started feeling his pockets and said “Goodness, the Principal…I’m sure I have a speech somewhere in my pockets to welcome the new Principal”. Of course he was joking. We both laughed and I felt immediately at ease.

The person was Fr John Carnie. He must have known that in that moment I would have been anxious and worried and he knew just what to do to calm my nerves. Over the next 2 and ½ years Fr John, taught me more about what it is to be kind than anyone I have met here before or since. I learned that he had a special joke he shared with each person he met here. I learned that he always displayed a gentle calmness that made others feel at ease in his presence. Most importantly, I learned that when he spoke to you it was as if you were the only person in the room, his special friend.

I wanted to be like Fr John. I wanted to be more kind to those I encountered. I wanted to show everyone I met that in that moment they were the most important person to me. Of course I could never be Fr John Carnie. No one could. However I can attempt to devote myself to that ideal – the ideal of kindness.

The example of kindness at Marcellin is of course not just reserved for the great man Fr John. I see it in our school every day through the interactions of many in our village on a hill and I am very grateful to all those of you who choose to be kind. Whether it be in the classroom or the staff room, kindness is the key to a well-functioning and  successful community. Marcellin Champagnat spoke about kindness in a different way he called it love and he asked us to choose to love and love equally. Jesus himself showed kindness, compassion and love to all those he encountered. He put an extra layer on it though when he asked us to be kind to the people we don’t like. That’s the ultimate kindness. 

So I ask you again today – choose to be kind. It can be as simple as a smile, an encouraging word, an act of forgiveness, an act of solidarity or generosity or selflessness – choose kindness.

There are so many people here at Marcellin who have been kind to me that it would be impossible to name them all. But to all those staff students and parents who have been kind to me, who have forgiven my shortcoming and who have encouraged me, I say thank you.

I do reserve particular thanks to the Marists and Marist Schools Australia in showing faith in me to lead this College. I wish to thank also the Marcellin College Advisory Council who have been models of the Marist way of doing good quietly in support of me and our school. To our Marcellin College Community Association and our College Foundation who have given of their time and talent purely because they love this school and they love you boys. I wish especially thank the leadership team of our College who are the most dedicated, resilient, passionate, talented and hard working people I know. They do so much for you, sacrifice so much for you, bear the brunt of so much for you to ensure you are all given the opportunity to become the best versions of yourself you can be.

Finally I wish to thank my family, my beautiful wife Caroline, and my children, Andrew, Tom, Liam, Luke and Hannah who have loved me unconditionally and who have been my source of solace and strength at every moment of my time here and always.

There is an old song from the 70s written be a fellow named Glenn Campbell called Try a Little Kindness. You can Youtube it! The first line of the chorus says, "You’ve got to try a little kindness, show a little kindness, just shine your light for everyone to see."

My hope and prayer for you all today is that each of you chooses kindness and in doing so you will shine your light on the world. A world which could do with a little more kindness these days.

You will always be in my thoughts and my prayers. And remember Virtute ad Altissima. 

Best wishes to you all,
Mark