Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,
It is very exciting for me to be writing this week’s newsletter from my desk overlooking the natural beauty of our grounds here at Whitefriars. Even more heart-warming is the sound of boys playing on the nearby basketball courts on this sunny, Thursday lunchtime at the College. It almost feels like a normal day at school. Unfortunately, it is not. It’s not because five sixths of our young men are missing along with many our staff. It’s not normal because we can’t see the smiles on people’s faces under their masks. It’s not a normal day because we cannot gather as a school community, play competitive sport, sing in choir or many other COVID-19 unsafe practices.
Last week our College community came together (virtually) to celebrate Whitefriars Day. This years Whitefriars Day is especially significant as we celebrate our 60th anniversary. Unfortunately, as with most things we had to rethink our approach to this special day and I am very grateful to our staff and senior student leaders, led by Josh Vujcich, Director of Faith and Mission and Mick Lafferty, Deputy Principal – Students, for the innovative and creative way they presented our Whitefriars Day online assembly.
In these times it is good to seek out any glimmer of light and hope. At Whitefriars engaging in this activity yields a wealth of examples. Examples of generosity, of creativity and a deep care for one another abound in normal times. During our Home Learning Program our students, parents and staff have taken this idea to a new level.
There is no doubt that this has been a challenging time for all in our community. Our attention is constantly drawn to our own situation. The news has been dominated by COVID-19 at the local and national level. The other day I received an email which reminded me that our experience here in Australia is quite different to that experienced by people in other parts of the world, particularly those from developing countries.
I have really enjoyed watching the Olympics over the last couple of weeks. They have been a welcome distraction from the news of the day and have provided us all with something to collectively cheer about.
Last Friday our community celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Patron Saint of the Carmelites. The early Carmelites chose Mary as their Patron as they believed that she was the perfect model of the interior life, a life which seeks God in everything, a life of prayer and the practice of living in the presence of God. This is the life to which the Carmelites aspire. A life too, which continues to inspire and influence the work we do in support of the young men of Whitefriars College.
We commenced this new term full of promise and hope. Life seemed to be returning to normal. Crowds had returned to sporting matches, restaurants were full, planes were flying and there wasn’t a mask to be seen. Unfortunately, as we know now, the situation can change rapidly.
For most in our community, the last couple of weeks has been a time of difficulty and stress, fuelled by the uncertainty of a pandemic which is as unpredictable and difficult to read for us as a swirling fluky wind is, for a player lining up for goal at the MCG!
When I was a young boy my parents ensured that their four sons received a rounded education. Part of that education entailed each of us attending piano lessons. Each week I would ride my bike to my lesson and wait for my turn.
Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you’re going. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.
I get a sense now, that the world is a fragile place. On the one hand, life appears to be returning to normal, particularly here in Australia. On the other, we know that our situation can change rapidly. In some ways the challenges of 2020 are behind us, but we also know that the impacts of that extraordinary year are still being keenly felt in our community and will be for some time to come.
A couple of Sunday’s ago, I stood before a group of prospective parents at our College Open Day to speak about the virtues and advantages of a boy’s education. I believe it was not possible to commence this address, without first acknowledging and supporting, the growing chorus of young women who continue to show strength and courage in calling out the extremely poor behaviours of some young men in our society.