Last Wednesday evening, our College community came together at Robert Blackwood Hall for our annual Evening of Celebration. Over the past two years, like so many other events, the evening was held online so it was with great excitement and hope that our community was able to gather to celebrate the efforts and achievements of our students and to showcase their many talents on the stage, together, in one room.
I have been reflecting a great deal lately on the concept of transition, that process of changing from one state or condition to another. In my own family we are in a state of transition as the last of our five children moves out of home, leaving my wife and I as empty nesters.
Often when I ask a person how they are or what they have been up to in their life the response is invariably the same, “I’ve been really busy” or words to that effect, is generally the answer. Some of you may remember years ago when computer technology was just taking off. The catch cry from promoters of this new technology was that we would all have so much more time on our hands. I think most of us are still waiting for that to kick in! The busyness of life is increasing. Newtons third law of relativity tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case the equal and opposite reaction of busyness could be a lack of time to stop and reflect on who we are, where we are in our lives and where we are going. How often do any of us take time to stop and reflect on these bigger questions of life?
Last night, our College community came together to celebrate the efforts and achievements of the Class of 2022. The evening commenced with a celebration of the Eucharist in the spirit heart of the Catholic Church in Melbourne, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Following this significant celebration, we ventured onto the Sofitel Melbourne to enjoy each other’s company and to reflect on the time these young men had spent at Whitefriars.
Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,
I often quote the prayer to the great Archbishop of El Salvador St. Oscar Romero… It helps now and then to step back and take the long view.
I believe the opening line for this prayer is quite fitting for the last week of a school term. It is also pertinent to who we are as a Catholic School in the Carmelite Tradition. It is not by chance that the first of the three tenets of the Carmelite Charism is Contemplation (the other two being Community and Service). How often do we step back and take the long view? How often do we take a moment to reflect on what has been, to just take a moment to breathe? It might sound simple and a bit strange but the simple act of stopping and just focusing on your own breathing just for a few moments can be very good for your health. Some call these moments mindfulness, some call it mediation, some even call it prayer.
Why do people aspire to leadership? What attracts them, drives them, provokes them to want to take on these types of roles? Some might suggest that money, power and prestige are the motivational forces behind people’s desire to lead. Leaders like these generally don’t last very long and if they do they will often be disappointed and never be truly satisfied in their role.
There are so many inspiring and uplifting things that happen every day at Whitefriars. Some are obvious and attract much deserved fanfare and accolade. Others are more hidden, subtle, and understated, but no less powerful and deserving of recognition and celebration. This idea was brought home to me last week when I enjoyed an opportunity to take a prospective family on a tour of the College after school hours.
Last week at Whitefriars we celebrated the inaugural feast day of St. Titus Brandsma. This was followed on Sunday with a mass at the Spiritual home of the Carmelites here in Melbourne, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Middle Park. It was wonderful to see members of the Whitefriars community there on the day including some of our great boys, many of whom were from the House of Brandsma, and who helped to lead this significant celebration.
On Friday 15 July, our College community came together at the Vogue Ballroom in Blackburn to celebrate 60 years of Catholic Carmelite Education at Whitefriars College. Over 250 current and past students, teachers, friends and families attended this joyful celebration.
Last week I was fortunate to attend the Year 8 Drama Performance of Murder in the Knife Room. This highly entertaining and positive evening showcased and celebrated the talents of a dedicated group of Year 8 students supported by an equally passionate and dedicated group of Performing Arts staff. The result was a wonderful gift of fun and frivolity to those of us present. Prior to the performance I ventured backstage to wish our budding performers the all the best for the show. I asked the boys if they had performed on stage before and was interested to discover that most of them had not. You would not have known that by their enthusiastic, skilled and confident performances.
I often say to prospective families, if you want to know who we are and what we are about here at Whitefriars, you only need to remember three simple words; Catholic, Carmelite, Boys. Whitefriars College is a Catholic school for boys in the Carmelite tradition. Now of course, these simple words require some unpacking to truly understand the identity and mission of our school. However, I think often actions speak louder than words. So, today I would like to provide you with a couple of examples from the past week whose actions and events best illustrate the character of our school with a focus on the three tenants of the Carmelites; Contemplation, Community and Service.
There are moments in life when words fail to adequately describe a significant life experience. Reducing such experiences to a mere description of events just doesn’t cut it and suggesting that… you had to be there… is not particularly helpful. Such has been my experience here in Rome over the last couple of days as myself and other representatives of the Whitefriars community attended the Canonisation of Saint Titus Brandsma.