From the Principal – The power of contemplation

Dear members of the Whitefriars College family,

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! We all are looking for something solid to hang on to, something tangible, something which will give us comfort and strength that everything will be okay, that we will be okay, that the world will be okay – but where do we find such things?

Over the past couple of weeks, I have found cast iron certainty, firmness, and steadfastness in the staff of Whitefriars who, with great agility and resolve, have led our young men with positivity and perseverance. Who have used every ounce of their experience and expertise to engage, connect and inspire young men to learn. Not all the time, but enough of the time, to ensure that they maintain momentum and continuity in their learning.

I know that both our staff and our parents are doing all they can to keep the young minds and hearts of Whitefriars boy on track, but we can’t do everything. There must come a point where they take ownership, take the reins, and steer the ship. We know through experience that these times bring great opportunity for our young men to step up and take greater control of their learning and their lives.

We all know that there is one thing our young men do have absolute control over, as we all do; the freedom and control over how we choose to respond, our perspective. We could decide to see the opportunities around us, and the chances to improve and evolve our being, our lives, and the lives of people around us. We may not be able to change the world right now, but we can change the way we respond to it.

There are as many ways to achieve this as there are self help gurus who espouse it. I would like to present a slightly different view, a Carmelite view. There is a reason that the Carmelite Order has been around for over 800 year. They understand change and hardship and disruption and disaster better than most. Their secret is simply to be attentive to the present moment. To focus ourselves on where we are right now knowing that we cannot change the past nor predict the future.

Attentiveness to this presence has been the continual goal of the Carmelites. Carmelites first and foremost understand themselves to be a contemplative order. Whenever they attempted to define or redefine or reform themselves, particularly following a crisis, they claim contemplation as their primary activity and greatest priority. For the Carmelites, as for all people of faith, letting go of the past and not concerning ourselves too much with the future requires complete trust in God and in each other. The contemplative prayer of the Carmelites results in an ever-renewed appreciation for those with whom they live and for those whom they serve.

So, prayer or reflection, or mindfulness to the present moment or whatever you wish to call it, not only grounds us in the present but also helps us to appreciate and value those who live in the present moment with us. One of the greats of contemplation, St. Teresa of Avila tells us that Carmelite communities are meant to be communities of friends, who are friends with Jesus. She challenges us all that we…all must be friends, all must be loved, all must be held dear, all must be helped. That’s the power of living in the present moment, the power of contemplation. That’s Carmelite.

I look forward to seeing our students back on campus this Tuesday.

Mark Murphy, Principal


Vale Maureen and Leonard Ostrowski

On behalf of the Whitefriars College I wish to offer my deepest sympathies to Paul and Luke (Old Collegians) following the death of their parents Maureen and Leonard. The thoughts and prayer of our College community during this time of grief and loss.

Eternal rest grant unto Maureen and Leonard

And may perpetual light shine upon them

May they rest in peace