A reunion 40 years in the making

December 7, 2017

The College was recently delighted to reconnect, for the first time in 40 years, with Old Collegian John Mildren (SPC 1971-75). It was a poignant moment of reflection for John and for the College and we are fortunate that John has provided permission for us to publish below his thoughts on why it took so long to reconnect, and his reaction to once again touring the halls of SPC.

-I have been on a rather interesting journey of late.

This chapter of the journey began when I reconnected with an old St Pat’s friend on Facebook and over coffee. – He apparently gave my email address to St Pat’s and I got an invite from Brian Brown- to a boarders’ reunion from 1975.

Though never a boarder and with no intention of going, it got me thinking about my relationship with my secondary school and the role it has played in my life in the 42 years since I left in 1975. – I knew so clearly that the majority of my most loving and important friendships went directly back to my time at St Pat’s.

I have been working on bettering myself and the way I live and love and I am very aware that, while I think I have addressed pretty much all my demons, I have still been angry with St Pat’s for over four decades.

I don’t like loose ends and unresolved issues and also I suspected that there is a strong vein of irrationality in the abiding anger I carried for St Pat’s.

It was not sensible or healthy to carry feelings, in 2017, which were generated in 1972-75. – I needed to close the loop and see if I could reconcile, if I could be comfortable in a relationship with a school which had given me the most important and abiding friendships, outside my marriage, but which had been a scene of such evil, of such a failure in tolerance and acceptance.

So I took a risk and asked if I could reconnect. Actually it was not such a risk because my intel told me John Crowley has met with hundreds of past pupils in his role over the past two years.

I needed to find out what had changed and what had shaped the journey of the school. I have always held strong feelings about the church’s negligence in relation to survivors of sexual abuse so I wanted to see what St Pat’s was doing and to see if I could trust them and believe. I was certainly hopeful.

I ended up having coffee with the John Crowley for over an hour and then he took me on a tour of the school. – This has been rather absorbing and engaging as I have listened to what the school is doing and why. – Suffice to say I feel very pleased that someone is actually acting in a cohesive and compassionate way to make amends and to improve the future.

Will I now be front and centre at every Old Boy function? – I doubt it. –

Have I made peace with the last remaining -issue- in my interesting life? – Yes I think so. –

I needed to walk through the corridors and see the brickwork, smell the canteen, peer into the windows of rooms that have not changed in 42 years but which were full of happy safe boys,- to start to let go of the anger which has not served me well for the better part of my life.-

We hope by publishing this article it may entice other Old Collegians to pursue a similar path of reconnection. Any Old Collegian wishing to revisit and tour the College is urged to contact our Alumni and Foundation Officer Mrs Lorrie Liston at lliston@stpats.vic.edu.au or by calling 5322 4442.