It’s a little over 25 years since a humble but committed man by the name of Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president. He did so after spending the preceding 18 years in prison, reward for his efforts in trying to end racial discrimination and segregation.
The words below are often incorrectly credited to Mandela from his Inauguration Speech in 1994. In fact, while he said them, he was quoting from a book called ‘Our Deepest Fear’ by Marianne Williamson in saying:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
In addressing the College assembly last week, I reminded the boys of something I had said to them earlier in the year; that every new year brings with it a set of aspirations and possibilities and every one of us offers a unique blend of talents and abilities to Whitefriars and to the broader community.
I reminded them that only they could judge whether they had applied their personal talents and abilities to full effect throughout the year. I also expounded on this comment by saying:
To the Year 12s, as you navigate your way through end of term SACs, Trial Exams and final weeks of classes, I would encourage you to continue to use the teacher, parent and peer support available to you as you prepare for exams and head towards your VCE or VCAL finish line! I would also ask that you do this in the same manner that you have applied and conducted yourselves all year – as authentic young men of intelligence, honesty, integrity and consideration of others. Thank you for the manner in which you have led our community this year, with sincerity and a demeanour characterised by gentle confidence and positivity.
To the Year 11s, your involvement in the recent Kairos retreats, Indigenous Immersion and current 2020 Student Leadership Program have enabled you to draw back from the frenetic nature of daily activities, and in the context of a strong Carmelite framework, explore your definitions of self, who you are and who you want to become. It is wonderful to see you, both individually and collectively, clarifying your values and developing the capacity to making responsible decisions within an environment of healthy, positive and respectful relationships.
I also described how, a few weeks ago, the Year 7 cohort gathered in the Chapel for the Feast of the Assumption. After a wonderful Eucharist celebration, each boy was presented with a brown scapular – a symbol associated with Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Fr Paul Sireh spoke to the boys to explain that this important, centuries old, Carmelite ritual was part of an external sign of love for Mary and of a commitment to live like her. With our continuing College theme of ‘Service’ this year, the scapular becomes a physical reminder of the important of service through action, rather than mere notion.
To this end, I encouraged all students (and staff) to take a moment to reflect on how fortunate a life we live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. With this in mind, and our whole school community commitment to our upcoming celebration of Mount Carmel Day, it reminds us of the opportunity to contribute to the health and education of boys and girls of a similar age who are far less fortunate than us.
Brother Agedo Bento was kind enough to then share the personal story of life growing up with his parents and 10 siblings and the many challenges they faced in Timor-Leste. Agedo spoke of his working life beginning as a street cleaner at age six where he earned AU$3 per day in support of his family, with no access to education beyond a primary level before being supported by the Carmelite Scholarship Program.
Almae in Fide Parentis