Headmaster’s Message – May 12, 2017

May 11, 2017

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

Last year in September, St Patrick’s College was involved in the EREA School Renewal Process. Occurring every five years, the School Renewal is an ongoing process of reflection on our authenticity as a Catholic School in the Edmund Rice Tradition.

Specifically, we are called to answer the key question: how do we as a community give active witness to the Charter and our Touchstones in our daily lives?

The reflections by the school in response to this central question are validated during the visit of the School Renewal Identity Team conducted over three days. Most significantly, the Renewal team, after careful reflection, set achievable outcomes for the coming five-year period as a means of ensuring we continue to reflect on our place as a school in the Edmund Rice Tradition. Successful renewal leads to accreditation as a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition.

I am pleased to inform the community that the College will be presented with our accreditation at our upcoming assembly on Tuesday, May 16 by Dr Wayne Tinsey, Executive Director of Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA).

There were a number of areas which were specifically highlighted by the Renewal Team in the final report as indicators of our active witness to our Touchstones. These included:

  • the increasing use of the Charter and Touchstones to articulate St Patrick’s place as a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition;

  • the rich visual environment of the College giving a powerful sense of history, personal story and community;

  • the large number who make a voluntary commitment to the Mission Team;

  • the inclusive nature of the community and the commitment to a low fee structure;

  • the strengthening relationships with wider church and Catholic education;

  • the positive profile of the College within the Ballarat community;

  • the response to hearings of the Royal Commission and the contribution to healing within and beyond the College boundaries; and

  • the commitment to an education for Indigenous students and, in particular, its success in the retention of students through to Year 12.

As well as the above commendations, there were a number of important recommendations made by the Renewal team specifically highlighted as areas for future growth. As a community, we will need to reflect on each of these carefully and to respond to each in turn as a means of constant growth and positive change. They include:

  • taking time to discern the true meaning of a -‘great’ man in the context of a St Patrick’s graduate;

  • considering bringing forward the strategic planning process in light of changed priorities and new leadership;

  • being strategic in ensuring qualified and committed teachers of Religious Education; and

  • supporting teachers in their capacity to differentiate curriculum, pedagogy and assessment so that they can more confidently deal with the diverse range of students.

There was also a recommendation for the College to reflect more deeply on our Charter and Touchstones over the coming few years as the lens through which we come to understand who we are as a Catholic School in the tradition of Blessed Edmund Rice. This is an important conversation for the entire community, including the Board, Leadership Team, staff, students, parents and the Mission Team. Importantly, this conversation has already commenced since the release of the final Renewal Report late in 2016.

One of our Touchstones, Justice and Solidarity, calls each one of us to be people who stand together with others who need us to be truly present for them in that moment.

-The Touchstone of Justice and Solidarity is an invitation to actively become involved in creating a better world for all people, especially those who are marginalised. Our faith, through Catholic Social Teaching, provides a rich and intellectual tradition of critically analysing injustices in the world and providing a pathway to overcoming them.-

I can think of so many examples on a daily basis where our students, staff and parents authentically respond to this call. How appropriate to finish with the following scripture passage referenced by Pope Francis in his reflection titled Take Responsibility.

-Lord. When was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not take care of you?- Then he will answer them, -Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.– (Matt 25:44-45)

Mother’s Day

On Friday, the College hosted its annual Mother’s Day Mass and Breakfast. Well over 600 people attended the celebration. – It was a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge how important our mothers are to each of us and the nurturing and loving presence they are in our lives. On behalf of the entire St Patrick’s College community, I wish all mothers a very happy day on Sunday.

John Crowley