The College gathered on Wednesday to experience a Welcome to Country ceremony for the first time. Uncle Colin Hunter junior, was the Wurundjeri Elder who led this ritual which has been performed for thousands of years in the Mullum Mullum area. At the end of the ceremony all boys and staff moved through the smoke to assemble in the Gymnasium for a Christian ritual involving prayer and water.
There is a context to all of the above.
As the Carmelites moved from the West Bank of Israel, in a beautiful place called Mt Carmel, they chose many sites in Europe and then across the globe. These sites are often of particular beauty and are referred to as Carmels, places where those who believe in a Carmelite way of life gather. Such places can be found in Southern England, Peru, Malta, Argentina and beyond.
Indeed, the Carmelites have a beautiful retreat centre at the base of Niagara Falls.
We too have been fortunate enough to inherit a site that was chosen by Fr Frank Shortis because of its natural beauty. We have the Carmel of Whitefriars College.
Our Smoking Ceremony has reminded us that there have been inhabitants of this land for thousands of years. The Wurundjeri people have now formally welcomed us to the land of their Elders. Of course the central feature of this area is the Mullum Mullum creek. Many people know of this name because one of the bridges on Eastlink called Mullum Mullum. It is much more than that. It has been a life source over thousands of years and continues to be so today. In Donvale alone there are 11,600 people who live in the creeks catchment area.
In Ringwood there are more than 15,000. We are delighted and proud to become one with the Wurundjeri and realise the responsibility we have in looking after our land. It is good to recognise that all this is happening within Environment Week at our College.
There are many discussions around the world about the Environment, particularly around sustainable carbon reduction policies and how to lessen pollutants. What we should be aware of is that the Carmelites have a group called the Justice, Peace and Integrity Commission. This group is strong in Australia and looks closely at sustainability. It is not afraid to let politicians and business people alike know that looking after the planet is not only economically wise but also morally correct. It is simply the right thing to do for those who will follow us.
The Justice, Peace and Integrity Commission is so well regarded it is the only one of the few of its type to be formally recognised by the United Nations.
We need to start small and locally by looking after our Carmel, our Whitefriars. The VCAL boys have been working in our wetlands lately to make sure that it is remains strong and healthy as a natural place of beauty. Let us hope that all of us have the same belief in keeping our land that we treasure a place to be proud of in the future.
It is wonderful to welcome back to the College both Travis Garone and Andrew Gibbins who are the founders of ‘Movember’, the men’s health initiative. These old boys have had a significant impact on how men view their health in terms of physical and mental wellbeing. They have raised a staggering $650,000,000 since ‘Movember’ began and are now operating in 21 countries. They spoke to the boys about how we can all make a difference in our own ways.
On a different note, I wish to congratulate our Year 9 and 10 students who have spent the past few weeks looking at their subject choices for next year. This culminated with the Course Advice Day yesterday. After having spent some time talking with students and parents in the Undercroft and then with a number of boys who were playing Year 10 basketball at Waverley yesterday afternoon it is good to see that young men are taking responsibility for your choices. We hope their choices give them both motivation and satisfaction with their work next year.
I know that for our Year 12 students they are dealing with heavy study and numerous SACs at the moment. We wish you well as you move through this time.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mark Uhlenbruch Year 8 and his family on the recent loss of his Grandfather. May he rest in eternal peace.
Almae In Fide Parentis