Headmaster’s Message – April 27, 2018

April 26, 2018

Dear Parents, Guardians, Friends, Staff and Students of St Patrick’s College.

I offer all members of our community a very warm welcome back to Term 2. As you will be aware, I have been on a period of professional enrichment leave throughout last term. While it was a very rewarding time for me personally, I certainly missed all of the exciting things that make up life at St Patrick’s College. I would like to acknowledge a number of staff members who have done a superb job running the school throughout my absence including Mr Stephen Hill as Headmaster, Mrs Elizabeth Ryan, Deputy Headmaster, Staff and Student Wellbeing, Mrs Julia Petrov in the role of Deputy Headmaster, Learning and Teaching and Mrs Leonie Darken, Director of the Kelty Resource Centre.

I remember vividly my interview for the position of Headmaster at St Patrick’s College. I was asked a question about my sense of the importance of students and the College making a contribution to the Ballarat and broader community. Upon my return from leave, and in reflection of the ongoing contributions our students and staff make outside of the classroom, I have had reason to revisit the significance of this question as a source of great hope and joy for our school.

On Tuesday afternoon I had the pleasure of visiting Year 9 students working as a team in the Whelan Food Technology Centre to prepare a range of meals for the Ballarat Soup Van. This was part of their new community service program which was established following a full review of the Year 9 Program in 2017. What immediately struck me here was the importance of this moment – our students, working together, to assist others through the gift of their own time and effort. From all reports, our Year 9 students continue to do some wonderful work through their community service participation.

Similarly, each week, many of our students travel to a number of destinations locally and in Melbourne to offer their time in service to others. Examples here include, amongst others, assisting in reading programs and travelling down to South Melbourne each week to help operate the community Soup Van which provides support to people in St Kilda.

On ANZAC Day, the College immersed itself fully in many moving local services. – All of our boarders attended the Dawn Service at the Cenotaph in Sturt St, followed by our Marching Band participating in the ANZAC Day Parade and a number of senior students and boarders representing the College at the 11am ANZAC Service. This involvement gives active witness to the memory and legacy of those past students of the College who have served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping missions. Some of these brave men never returned home from active duty and we remember their sacrifice for our nation and their families.

In the world of education, where there is ongoing pressure to measure a school’s success against ever-increasing academic benchmarks and league tables, we must also see the importance of continuing to form hearts and minds through service to others. Our ability to maintain a balance here is fundamentally crucial. And while there isn’t an examination to quantify the importance of our students spending time to help others in need, or a test to measure the impact on a student’s wellbeing when contributing positively and proudly to our broader community, I remain convinced our society will be the richer for it in years to come.

On Tuesday, our community participated in a moving ANZAC service in our College gymnasium. Run superbly by our 2018 senior school leaders, Sam Williams, Tom Clark and Dean O’Brien, it was an incredibly powerful experience that embodied the ANZAC spirit in a way that was tangible and educational for all present. For our parents and guardians, I include part of my address below.

Recently, students and staff returned home safely from a very successful Australian War History Tour.

Over the course of the two weeks, a number of photos were uploaded to the College’s Facebook page, but the one that really impacted me was the statue named -Don’t forget Me Cobber-, located in the Australian Memorial Park in Fromelles.

The statue, cast in bronze, tells the story of Australian Sergeant Simon Fraser and other soldiers valiantly trying to assist wounded soldiers lying on the battlefield by carrying them back to safety. During one trip a soldier called out the immortal words, ‘Don’t forget me, Cobber’.

What struck me immediately about this statue was how it perfectly embodied the word mateship, a term often used by men and women who have served our country to describe the spirit of ANZAC Day. Mateship – that special bond that exists between two people who care a great deal about each other and who depend on each other.

– In the case of Sergeant Fraser, his sense of mateship – that he refused to leave badly injured soldiers on the battlefield to suffer alone, meant that he risked his own life to save them.

In our everyday day language – in the classroom, around the school, at home, we all use the word -mate- and often. We use it to describe our relationship with our closest friends. We sometimes interchange it with the word -friend-, but the meaning is essentially the same. Recently, when asking a number of students what makes St Patrick’s College special for our Great Man video, a common response was the sense of -‘mateship’ that exists here.

Being someone’s mate is such a special thing and should never be undervalued or underestimated. Yes, it is about being a good listener. Yes, it is also about being a good support in difficult times and personal hardships.

However, it also comes with a responsibility that we can often forget. The responsibility of honesty and trust. To be a true mate or friend to someone, you have to have the courage to say something when that person is making a poor decision. A true mate is relied upon to do this all of the time, not some of the time. And while it may not be an easy thing to do, it is important because we care about these people.

Today, as we remember the bravery of those Australian men and women who served in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations, and who are bound together for eternity in a spirit of mateship, honour and service, let us be mindful of the importance, responsibility and essence of mateship in our own lives as a source of enormous joy, celebration.

Something every single person here today needs throughout their lives.- –

Finally, as we continue our journey together through the Easter Season and Term 2, we continue to be mindful of the importance each of us play in being people of new life -“ where we can make a genuine difference in the lives of others, and in ourselves, through the hope offered to us in the resurrection story of Jesus. This hope is a gift for all of us.

Finally, it is wonderful to be back at St Patrick’s College. I wish all students well for Term 2 and look forward to hearing about many more examples of service to the community of Ballarat and beyond.

Have a great weekend

Mr John Crowley


Love Overcame– (Julie Palmer)

Emerging from a cold tomb

All the truth, majesty and creativity of a living God

Transforming a broken heart

Making a quiet return, in a still and sorrowful garden

The grave stone rolled away, to release redemptive love

Jesus resurrected and restored

Comforts a weeping woman

Speaks with travellers on a journey

Meets with his faithful friends

And they bow down before Christ alive

And acknowledge that the saviour has arrived

That the word of God has come alive

And that the extraordinary transformation of heaven and earth

Is complete