On Monday night, we had a wonderful gathering of our community that highlighted many aspects of College life. A near capacity Hamer Hall, filled with College uniforms, banners and symbols, was a powerful physical reminder of who we are; indeed the theme of the night was, “We are Whitefriars”.
Given below is a much-edited version of some thoughts I gave within my address at Presentation Evening:
We need to live with both memory and imagination
One of the conundrums of schools lies in the fact that we all want to prepare students for the future and, yet, also wish to give them a basic building block of strong faith and morality that has a foundation in the past. Our College does have an essential building block called Catholicity that is enhanced by our Carmelite heritage.
In looking at the first part of this conundrum, Aristotle once said:
The society that loses its grip on the past is in danger, for it produces people who know nothing but the present, and who are not aware that life had been, and could be, different from what it is.
We need to live with both memory and imagination
My earliest recollection of speaking to our Community was at the Opening Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral five years ago. I referred to the beautiful and compelling history of the Carmelites who began as hermits and then moved to a pilgrim way of life as they spread from Haifa (Israel) and out into the known world.
The pilgrim way of the Carmelites has also remained with us. Their journey to Australia, and the eventual establishment of Whitefriars itself, follows a familiar path of trust in God and belief in a greater ideal. Fr Frank Shortis understood that one way to build the Kingdom of God and to reach out to others was to work with youth. In establishing our College in 1961, he fulfilled that dream.
A delight for all of us has been in working with the Carmelites in Timor-Leste. Our visiting immersion students and staff are consistently moved by young Carmelites, who, to the Western eye, have nothing, and yet are happy with what they are and whom they serve. This young nation has every right to feel proud of its progress. The Carmelites were with them on the path to democracy and remain committed.
In Timor-Leste they certainly live with both memory and imagination
On the other side of the conundrum, we need to educate our boys for a world beyond their own experiences. How often have you heard that the world is “fast paced”, “multi-dimensional”, “technology driven” and so-forth. Probably all true.
This morning, the Brazilian Grand prix took place. The Grand Prix was extremely popular in 1950. In that year the record for a pit stop was 67 seconds. This morning, the average pit stop time was around 3-4 seconds with the all-time record being 1.9 seconds. All due to such change in machinery and technology.
Many of us know that there is much more computing power in the IphoneX, than the Apollo 11 Spacecraft that landed on the moon. Just over three weeks ago, and for the first time, a 39 year old Australian successfully taught a machine to teach another machine. Yes, things are evolving quickly.
Boys, when you go home in the car tonight, ask your mum, dad or relative what supermarkets were like 30 years ago. When their parents asked them to get some milk and bread, it was a choice between white or brown bread and milk in a bottle or a new thing called a “carton”. Now there are entire aisles dedicated to hundreds of choices for bread and milk alone.
The greatest change for our boys lies in those mind-boggling choices. The other great change is in connectivity to others, especially those beyond their home, their state and their country.
Our young men need the security of a strong and resilient set of values that gives them every opportunity to live in a future world of hope and promise.
We do need to live with both memory and imagination
Remembrance Day is a significant occasion for any Australian. It is a time to recognise the actions of those who have gone before us. It is not to glorify war in any way, rather to recall the many women and men, of all nations, who gave their lives for their country. Typically, this day is symbolised by the red poppy, which has its origin on the fields of Flanders in Belgium.
Our College gathered last week to pay our respects to the millions of families across the world who have suffered through challenges unknown now to so many of us. Lest we forget.
We have begun the examination season at Whitefriars. Our VCE Units 3 and 4 students are now over halfway through their experience, with many finishing up over the next week. Our Year 10 and 11 students began their examinations this week with the younger students having a series of assessments and test to complete their year. Good luck to all boys as they strive to do their best.
The inaugural Whitefriars Golf Day is being held on Friday. We have great interest in the event. We will be remembering Patrick Cronin (Class of 2014), as we raise money for the PC12 cause. Patrick’s life was cut tragically short as the result of a one-punch attack last year. We also think of the Cronin family at this time following the recent sentencing of Patrick’s attacker.
We were delighted to welcome our incoming Year 7 2018 families at their Information Evening. It was lovely to see so many new families join us and to re-acquaint with other current families who have younger boys here next year.
We ask that you keep in your prayers this week the families of Frank Pospischil (Staff) and Luke Stelling (10 Soreth) on the passing of their
father-in-law and grandfather Louis Grubert. May they find strength and comfort at this difficult time with their memories, family and friends, and their faith. Rest in Peace.
Almae In Fide Parentis