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From the Principal – Our Values

Dear members of the Whitefriars family,

I am very please to present to you the first In Fide Newsletter for 2024. I commend it to you as a wonderful source of information about the life of our great school.

The first few weeks of any school seem to move at a frenetic pace. At Whitefriars, we have hit the ground running with the likes of Staff Professional Learning Days, induction of our newest Year 7 students and students new to other year levels, welcome assembly for our Year 7 students, new staff and commissioning of our 2024 school leaders, Year 7 camp, a number of parent information evenings, Opening School Mass and Ash Wednesday service, the commencement of House gathering masses and not to mention the beginning of academic classes and cocurricular programs. It’s enough to make your head spin!

In the midst of all of this activity and operation we have attempted to take time to reflect on where our College is heading through the launch of our College’s new Strategic Directions Document. This seminal text has been developed over a period of many months by our highly skilled and dedicated College Board who have captured the essence of who we are and who we aspire to be. Over the coming months I will be providing further information about this visionary document and how as a school community we will bring it to life over the next 5 years.

At our commissioning service for new staff and student leaders held at the start of the year, I attempted to provide some insight into our strategic directions document with a particular focus on the five values which are important foundation stones on which this paper rests. I have printed it below for your interest.

As we enter this exciting new year at Whitefriars I pray that each member of our community, students, parents and staff enjoy a year filled with joy, learning and positive relationships, where each person strives to grow in knowledge and wisdom under the guidance of and love of Jesus, Mary and Elijah.

 

Principals Address, Commencement Liturgy 2024

Good morning Students, Parents and Staff. It is great to be here on this glorious summer morning as we gather to welcome you all back to a new and exciting year at Whitefriars. Today we have welcomed all those of you, students and staff new to our great school. I hope your time with us is enjoyable, productive and valuable. We have also celebrated and commissioned those of you who have shown great courage, generosity and commitment in putting yourselves forward as student leaders of Whitefriars in 2024. On behalf of the College I would like to thank you for stepping forward and stepping up into these significant positions.

You may have also noticed these banners behind me, and perhaps even wondered what they are for and where they have come from. The Whitefriars College Board who are wonderful and important leaders in our College have spent the last 12 months discerning the future directions of our College. As part of this process they felt it was important to provide us with some foundational values which will support us as we continue to take Whitefriars forward and work together to make it the best place it can be for all members of our community.

These are the values of Faith, Gentleness, Excellence, Respect and Justice. Today, as we commissioned our new School Leaders I was reflecting on which of these values would best describe and express what leadership is about.

Initially, I was drawn to the value of excellence.  We need leaders who are good at what they do. Clear and critical thinkers, creative, hard working, disciplined and articulate. But then I thought is that enough to be a good leader.

Perhaps good leaders also need a healthy dose of respect. Respect for the position they hold, respect and appreciation for those who have gone before them and mostly respect for the people they will serve. If our leaders don’t respect us, listen to us, take on board our needs and concerns then how can we possibly respect them. So perhaps respect is the most important value in leadership.

Then I thought maybe its justice. A leader needs to be understanding, fair and equitable. A leader must try to understand the needs of others particularly the most vulnerable, the voiceless and the oppressed and to stand up for their rights to create a just and better school. So that must be it – Justice.

But then I thought about leadership in the Whitefriars context and in the Whitefriars way and thought, how should we lead as people of the Carmelite tradition. The answer was very clear – with gentleness. Whitefriars leaders should demonstrate compassion, awareness, selflessness, sensitivity and a calm, accessible and positive approach to all people they encounter. Good leaders are those people who we feel comfortable expressing our fears and concerns to, they are approachable and warm. They show strength but are reasonable, they bring clarity and certainty but they also care deeply about what others have to say. All this encapsulated in that distinctly Whitefriars idea of the gentle man. So that’s it then, its about gentleness.

But then I looked up and there was one value floating in the breeze. Quietly, silently in the background. Not a loud, in your face word, not a word we hear to often these days but a word perhaps more powerful and more important than the others – faith.

We all know the story of Elijah so beautifully told to us often by people like Fr Paul and Mr Vujcich. The story which speaks about God not being found in the noisiness of earthquakes, fires and fierce storms but in the stillness and silence of the gentle breeze. That is where faith is found, in those moments of stillness and reflection. Great leaders are not the ones with the loudest voice or the most flamboyant persona. They are not always the ones out front showing everyone the way. The best leaders are those often working quietly in the background, the ones who softly and intently listen far more than they speak, mostly they are the ones who draw on faith to show them the way. Faith can come from God and the example of Jesus. Faith can also come in the form of others around us. A great leader is one who shows faith in those around them, who allows others to lead, who supports and encourages others to run with their own ball. In other words great leaders empower others lead, to be the best version of themselves and to live life to the full. So perhaps great leadership is all those values we see here today, rolled into one idea and perhaps that idea is love. Love for your school, for your mates, our staff and your family.

Now, whether you have been officially commissioned today as a leader or not I ask each of you this year to take a moment every now and then to reflect on the values of Faith, Gentleness, Excellence, Respect & Justice presented here today.  I ask each of you to reflect on how you can live out those values in support of your class mates, our staff and your families to help Whitefriars continue to grow as an outstanding place of learning, of life and of faith in our beautiful and unique Carmelite tradition.