Dear members of the Whitefriars College,
What a unique, beautiful and remarkable place Whitefriars is. This has been my overwhelming impression since entering the gates as Principal a few short weeks ago. Even now as I write this first article for In Fide, I feel this uniqueness all around me. I look out the window of my office and to one of the best views in Catholic Education – the stunning natural bush setting of our College. As I walk down the hill from the front gate I feel an immediate sense of calm, peace and stillness accentuated by the sounds of birds and the smell of the Australian bush. What insight the great Carmelite and founder of Whitefriars, Fr. Frank Shortis must have had when he decided to locate the only Carmelite school in the southern hemisphere in this place.
In my brief time here, I have realised this land on which Whitefriars sits is a metaphor for its identity as a Catholic school for boys in the Carmelite tradition. It is reflected firstly in Carmelite Charism which is an essential element of the fabric of this place. A charism which speaks of prayer and contemplation and of love, freedom and service. Most encouragingly I have seen this attitude being lived out by the people of the Whitefriars community.
I have met and observed many staff who are the keepers and exemplars of this way of living and working. I have met a leadership team of great wisdom, knowledge and understanding. One also who is cohesive and supportive of one another. I have met staff who are warm, welcoming and who love what they do. I have met a staff community committed to the development of their own spiritual life and who see themselves as life long learners. Most importantly I see a group of people who devote themselves to the needs of the young men they serve here every day. A group of people who contemplate what needs to be done and then go out and make it happen.
I have met parents who have a deep appreciation and commitment to this place. I have met some of the parents who volunteer their time and energy in our canteen. I have met other dedicated parents who devote themselves to building up the community of Whitefriars through their involvement in the Whitefriars Parents’ Association. I have met parents too at our Year 11 and 12 Parent Information Evenings who are invested in the life of their son and who realise the value and benefit of attendance at these important meetings. Parents who understand the value of partnerships with their teachers and who know that they can bring influence to bear on their son’s development as a learner.
Most importantly I have met young men who have been friendly, engaging and generous not only towards a new slightly nervous Principal but also towards the newest students of Whitefriars; our Year 7 boys and other students new to the College. Last Friday I witnessed Year 12 students who gently and sensitively guided our new young men around the College as they took their first tentative steps on their six-year journey into secondary school life. I have always believed that the demonstration of empathy is one of the hallmarks of manhood. Our Year 12 young men remembered what it was like to be an anxious but excited Year 7 boy and supported our new students with great sensitivity and care.
So, you can imagine why I am pinching myself as I walk down the hill each morning. I remain blessed and humbled to have been chosen to serve this authentic Catholic, Carmelite schools for boys. A school rich in faith, imbued with Carmelite identity and committed to supporting young men to become the best versions of themselves, spiritually academically, socially and physically.
I look forward to meeting you throughout the course of the year as together, in partnership, we develop the fine young ‘gentle men’ of Whitefriars College.
Mr Mark Murphy