Last week our community came together to celebrate the efforts and achievements of our students at our annual Celebration Evening. Due to the restrictions of the day, we were not able to host this significant event in person. However, the efforts of our staff and students in presenting this evening online provided for a meaningful and memorable event. I am particularly grateful to Ms Kelli Joiner and Mr James Smith who put together all that we saw on screen along with Mr Josh Vujcich, Fr Paul Sireh O.Carm, Mr Mick Lafferty, Mrs Catherine Spurritt and our wonderful Student Leaders who all brought a great sense of dignity and gravitas to the occasion.
Each year on Remembrance Day our College community gathers to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in war defending the liberty and freedom we enjoy in this country today. At our service held yesterday I was encouraged by the reverent and prayerful way the students of Whitefriars attended to this solemn and significant ceremony. It is important to remember that this occasion is not one where we attempt to celebrate or glorify war but one where together we reflect on our role in being co-creators of a world where peace and reconciliation replace war and violence.
There are moments that define a group of people. Whether that be a sporting team, an orchestra or even a graduating class – there are moments when the true character and quality of that group comes through, for better or worse. The last day of celebration for Year 12 students is one of these defining moments. As a Principal my greatest concern on these days is the safety and wellbeing of our students.
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.