Principal's Blog - 5 March 2020

03 Mar 2020

Dear members of the Marcellin Family,

It has been a wonderfully exciting start to the year as we have engaged in a flurry of activities over the first six weeks. As well as the academic program getting underway successfully, the following events and programs have taken place: Year 11 and 12 Retreats, Year 7 Camp, House Liturgies, College Dux Assembly, Induction and Commissioning Mass, International Women’s Day Breakfast, Parent Information Evenings, Career Evenings for Year 12s and their parents, AGS Summer Sport, College Swimming Carnival and the 70th Anniversary Lunch – all in the first six weeks! Each one of these events and programs are integral to the fabric of our College and they speak to the range and diversity of opportunities for our young men, their families and the broader Marcellin community. As you can appreciate, they also speak to the generosity and commitment of our staff. When you look at the range of activities and the time involved, you can get a real sense of the dedication of our talented and hard-working staff.

The renowned educationalist Sir Ken Robinson has made the comment that, “there is no school in the world than is better than its teachers.” He also states that, “teachers are the life blood of schools.” And teachers of course rely heavily on all of their colleagues who are not directly involved in teaching but provide essential skills, expertise and hard work to ensure the best teaching can take place and that all programs can run to a high standard.

I am sure the whole community is deeply grateful to the staff at the College.

Last week also marked the beginning of Lent. It is a very significant time of the year for all Catholic communities and for us here at the College.

Lent is here: “It is the time to disconnect from cellphones and connect ourselves to the Gospel”
Pope Francis (Papal Audience Vatican City, 26/02/2020; Ash Wednesday)

On Wednesday of last week, Ash Wednesday, the entire College community paused for a few moments to reflect on the significance of this day. This occurred at different times and in different locations to ensure all were catered for and given the opportunity to receive the ashes and have some time to ponder the occasion. Staff gathered at 8:15am in the College Chapel. The young men took part in their Ash Wednesday ceremony during their pastoral time, except for the Year 7s who were still on Camp. They had their own ceremony onsite. Even the volunteers working in the canteen had a moment to pause from their busy day to receive ashes from the Principal! So, what is the significance of all this?

Ash Wednesday of course marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a season which is often referred to as a time of preparation. But what is it that we are preparing for and how does one prepare appropriately? Like so may parts of our Catholic story, the beginnings go back to Jesus. Scripture tells us that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting before he began his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-2). He withdrew from his regular routine in order to seek direction for the road ahead. The symbolic ’40 days’ is the approximate time we associate with Lent. It is a time for all of us to find some moments of ‘desert’ experience in our lives to withdraw and contemplate our own journey. In his Ash Wednesday address, from which the above quote is taken, Pope Francis also suggests, “Just as Jesus spent time in the desert, Catholics must spend Lent creating similarly sparse surroundings and a healthy environment of the heart.”

Here at school we want to work with our young men to help create these more reflective opportunities. One way to do that is by minimising unnecessary distractions. All would be aware of the new mobile phone policy which came into force at the beginning of the year. This decision was based on sound research around the impact of mobile phones on concentration and ultimately learning. So far we are very pleased, both with how our young men have accepted the change (it really does go against the grain), and the reduction in unnecessary interruptions. But it is not only their learning we are concerned with. As we journey through this Lenten period, I would hope that fewer screen distractions also allows for moments of reflection that can feed our own spiritual awareness and growth.

With Lenten blessings for week ahead.

John Hickey