Headmaster’s Message – December 3, 2015

December 2, 2015

Headmaster’s Address to Valedictory Dinner November 20, 2015

It is with great joy that I welcome everyone here tonight to our Year 12 Valedictory dinner particularly our official guests including our College Patron Bishop Paul Bird, parents, guardians, friends, staff and most importantly, our wonderful graduating students. In offering this welcome, we acknowledge the traditional custodians of this great land. They are the Wathaurong people. We pay our respects to any elders past and present and acknowledge their care of the land over many thousands of years. May we walk on this land gently and respectfully.

I am sure, by now, most of you will have sensed the enormous change that has just taken place in your lives since completing your last exam. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what this feeling is. Even after finishing my own Year 12 over 25 years ago, I still remember it well myself as I am certain many staff do. It is a feeling that is both unsettling and exciting. Yesterday I had a discussion with a few of you here tonight and I think you summed it up perfectly by describing it as a feeling that the connection with the College has been somewhat broken, and that you are -on your own-. This feeling will pass, sooner than you think, and when it does you will know two things very clear: first that this wonderful College is still here for you and always will be. Your place and sense of belonging at St Patrick’s will be with you for the rest of your life. And second, that each of you are about to enter one of the most exciting times of your life, and that this uncertainty is also part of the excitement. For some, it will be at University or TAFE, for some it will moving home to local communities to share your talents and skills, and for others it will to take up a trade or full time work in the local community of Ballarat. Whatever direction you take, always remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. This is not something I have been particularly good at doing in my own life and so I offer this advice from a strong sense of personal experience. The joys, the tears, the laughter, the deep sorrows, are all part of life and make us stronger as people as we move through our own journeys.

The world each of you is about to enter over the coming months is a world that, in many ways, seems broken. War, conflict, racism, intolerance and violence are on our television screens and in our newspapers every day. But there is another world that co-exists around us that does not get much airplay in our media. It rarely appears on the front of our newspapers.- A world of compassion, respect, hope, empathy, joy, sacrifice. It is a world that is everywhere, you just have to know where to look. This world of hope lives in the way you have led this year, each time you have picked up a young boy off the ground who has hurt himself, dusted him off, and sent him on his way, each time you raised money to assist others in need, each time you smiled at someone, each time you gave reassurance to someone who was anxious, each time you spoke up in response to injustice, each time you refused to speak ill of someone or belittle them. Each time you held a door open for someone carrying a heavy load. In these times we find Jesus and the heart of his mission: to strive to be people who see the -other- before themselves. In these times you have grown into men of which Edmund Rice would be proud. Men of inclusion, men of principle, men who are prepared to name injustice and accept the consequences for doing so. Our hope is that you go out into the world and to use the gifts and talents you have to be men of service. Life is busy, and there are many things that will take up your time. Don’t let the busyness of life cloud your power to make others happy. The world deserves the opportunity for your light to shine, so let it shine as brightly as it can.

On behalf of the entire St Patrick’s College community, I would like to thank each of you for your leadership this year and your contribution to St Patrick’s College. At the beginning of the year I spoke of the role each of us – students, staff and parents play as stewards of this great school. You have indeed left a legacy to be proud of.

And so, goodbye, good luck and may God keep each of you in the palm of his hand

Thank you.

John Crowley