Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,
Recently in our Liturgical Calendar, 1 November to be exact, we celebrated the feast of all Saint. This is a day on which we celebrate the lives of all our loved ones who are now resting in the palm of Gods hand. The name saint not only refers to those who have been officially given the title by the Church but to anyone who has led a good and holy life. Pope Francis tells us that to be saints is not a privilege for the few but a vocation for everyone. He goes further to say that holiness is not only for those who spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living lives with love and bearing witness in everything we do.
When I first hear the word ‘holiness’, I think of the holy cards we used to get as children with images of halo covered saints looking up to heaven. These images are important, but to a little boy they made the idea of holiness look impossible to attain. Pope Benedict XVI tells me that Holiness does not consist in not making mistakes or never sinning. Holiness grows with the capacity for conversion, repentance, willingness to being again, and above all the capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness. In simple terms, therefore to be ‘holy’ or ‘saintly’ means to strive to be the best version of myself that I can be.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have bared witness to many Whitefriars boys who have been engaged in holy pursuits, to become the best version of themselves. At our Year 12 farewell evening attended by our Year 12 students and their families via zoom we celebrated a group of young men who have overcome great adversity during this very challenging year. Young men who kept their eye on the ball and who focussed on the things they could control rather than those beyond their influence. We celebrated the efforts and achievements of all our young men, as well as recognising some individual students who had demonstrated extraordinary effort in achieving above and beyond expectations. Below you will find the citations for three of the most significant awards offered by the College to graduating students.
Last week, we further celebrated the gifts and talents of our senior students and our annual Visual Arts and Design Exhibition. I have been very fortunate this year to have observed the development of some of the great work which is on display at our exhibition. It has been inspiring to hear the boys speak about their work, to hear the stories behind it and the many difficulties and problems which they have encountered and solved along the way. It is often the story behind the work, which is as important and powerful as the work itself. This year’s story for our senior Studio Arts, Product Design, Media and Visual Communication students has been one of adversity, obstacle and set back. It has been one too of resilience, grit and triumph against the odds.
I would like to congratulate each of our Visual Arts students on the determination they have shown and the ‘never say die’ attitude that has seen them complete some of the most mature and skilled work I have seen under the most difficult of conditions.
This week, our Year 12 students commenced their final VCE examinations. I am sure you will join me in prayerful support for these young men as they apply all they have learnt throughout this extraordinary year to these tasks over the next couple of weeks.
To attain holiness does not rest solely in the achievement of great things, it is also about how we live in the day to day. It was St. Therese of Lisieux who I believe hit the mark about holiness when she said that we should do little things but do them with great love. Since the return of all our students and staff, I have seen small acts of kindness and generosity that demonstrate that many in community are well on the path to holiness, to becoming the best versions of themselves.
This is an occasional award, which may be presented to a Year 12 student who has achieved commendably in Year 12 in spite of some particular and special hardships, which he has had to contend with throughout the year.
There are not many people who can say that they will leave an impression on a school which will stand long after they have left. Only people who have truly inspired others, who have achieved great things, who have the respect and admiration of their peers, who have overcome challenges beyond anything we can fully appreciate can possibly achieve this lofty status.
There is definitely such a person among the class of 2020. That person is Ben Bugeja. Ben is not a man who is defined by his physical limitations, he transcends them. He has participated more fully in every aspect of school life than most. He is a constant presence in our midst, always doing all he can to support his community. St. Therese of Lisieux said that we should do little things but do them with great love. There is no doubt that Ben loves his school and he loves his mates. He has spent the past six years doing a million little things, motivated by a deep love for this College. Whether it be through his role as a great Leader of Mantua House or assisting Year 7s to feel safe and welcome, or being present at out of hours events or simply being there for a friend in need, Ben has done all these things with love. His House Leader Murray Prior describes him as being someone who stubbornly perseveres and who is his own harshest critic, always striving to be better than he was before. Ben has not only taken the road less travelled, he has carved out a new one. One which I know others will be inspired to follow.
Congratulations Ben on six years of effort and achievement here at Whitefriars. This school is all the better for having you here.
The Father Noel Kierce Award
This award is named for Father Noel Kierce, Educator, Principal, Chaplain and friend to all in the Whitefriars community. A man who was the exemplar and essence of the Carmelite spirit in our school for over 35 years. This award is presented to a student who, over his time at the College has demonstrated personal growth and maturity, embodied the Whitefriars Spirit of looking after one another, had a significant involvement in artistic or sporting pursuits, shown endeavour “above and beyond” in some capacity and been actively involved in the wider College community.
The recipient of this award has embodied these qualities and attributes. He has been a student who has engaged in many aspects of College life, excelling particularly on the sporting field where he has not only demonstrated great skill and endeavour, but has been an exemplar of sportsmanship and leadership both on and off the field. This young man has also thrown himself into his studies with great energy and enthusiasm, achieving academic excellence and enrichment awards during his time at Whitefriars, along with academic half colours. He has also achieved a WOCA award in 2015, along with the Charlie Milesi award. This young man is a natural leader who enjoys the confidence of his peers and has held a number of important leadership roles in our College. In his endorsement, this young man’s House Leader said he lives out the Carmelite Charism in the way he carries himself at the College and in the broader community. He has consistently been a strong role model to students at all year levels and is admired and respected by all for his service to the College and his exceptional character. This year this young man took on a senior student leadership role with the same passion, generosity and positivity he has embraced all other aspects of school’s life. He has given of himself time and time again, without thought for his own needs, in particular attending a number night time zoom meetings with prospective families to provide to speak of his authentic and genuine love of Whitefriars College.
It is my great pleasure this evening to announce the recipient of the Father Noel Kierce award is Toby Brown.
Fr Frank Shortis Award
Fr Frank Shortis was Carmelite Priest who was the founder of our great school almost 60 years. Fr Shortis was a giant of education and a great Carmelite without whose courage and vision Whitefriars would not exist. This award goes to a student who, over his time at the College, has consistently embodied, exhibited and promoted the spirit and ethos of Whitefriars in his conduct and relationships – both within and beyond the College Community.
The recipient of this year’s award is a young man who, since arriving at Whitefriars has demonstrated a maturity beyond his years and has consistently embodied the ethos of the College in all that he does. When this young man speaks, everyone sits up and listens. This young man has a very strong moral compass which guides him through life and is closely aligned with our Carmelite ethos founded in contemplation, community and service. He goes about his business quietly forming relationship after relationship with peers and staff with a reputation for reliability, honesty and loyalty.
He has been a consistently strong supporter of his House and particularly his House charity both in the College and in the wider community. His House Leader describes him as a young man of conviction and integrity and most importantly, he is the epitome of the gentle man with the consistent ability to show genuine empathy towards others.
The list of awards and accolades this young man has achieved is too numerous to mention. Suffice to say, they have covered sport, academia, leadership and social justice over the full six years of his time at Whitefriars.
This is a man has led our College in 2020 with distinction, maturity and most of all a deep love of this school and his mates. It is my distinct pleasure to award the 2020 Fr Frank Shortis award to Alex Dunmill.