Headmaster’s Address to 2019 Valedictory Dinner

November 26, 2019

The following is a transcript of the address Headmaster John Crowley delivered at the 2019 Valedictory Dinner:

“Can I begin by offering a very warm welcoming to everyone here tonight: parents, carers, family members, staff, those helping us out tonight across a variety of areas and, most importantly, our Graduating Class of 2019. In offering this welcome, as always, we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand, the Wathuroung people, and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging. May we continue to walk on this land gently and respectfully as Australia’s First Peoples have done for over 40,000 years. We also acknowledge the incredible contribution of the Christian Brothers who have toiled the soil at St Patrick’s College for the past 125 years, educating thousands of young men in the Catholic tradition and in the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice.

Graduation is a huge milestone and, with all of your SAC’s and examinations now completed, tonight is an opportunity to reflect with pride on your achievement and triumphs over the past six years – those areas of school life to which that you have made a significant contribution. Our Valedictory Dinner also marks the beginning of a period in your life of enormous change as each of you leave the gates of SPC for the final time as students and pursue your dreams, be it full-time employment, university or travel.

It is important for me to begin by saying that you have been wonderful role models and leaders this year. We could not have hoped for better ambassadors for the green, white and blue. Since returning from leave, I have not heard anything but sincere and abundant praise for the manner in which you have led the student body. We want to acknowledge this tonight as it has allowed the College to set the tone for the rest of the student cohort and to set the benchmark for next year’s Year 12 students.

Just as you have been a strong role models for other students at St Patrick’s College, your journey into the wider world will naturally see you search for other role models to guide you and your decision making. And, in your search for inspiration from others around you, I pray that you never lose sight of the transformative power that is found within each of you to change and influence the lives of others for the better.  And when we sense the realisation of this incredible reserve of hope and joy that each of us each carry, and have the courage to tap into it, the world around us begins to change because of us.

When a person responds to another person with kindness, with compassion and with love, we begin to see our deep connection as people. In these moments, those who are struggling, as we all do from time to time, come to know that they are not alone in the world. There is no greater expression of our humanity than when we liberate people from isolation and loneliness. This is the world that Jesus reveals to us through the Gospels.

Throughout the many and varied journeys that lie ahead of each of you, there will be times of great joy as well as those times of challenge. This is the roller coaster of life and it is an inescapable part of being human. Savour the great times. We often get so caught up in the busyness of life that we don’t stop to appreciate how precious these times are. And, in the times of challenge, always remember to seek the support of others who love you and who you trust. Recognising the need to seek support from those around us is not a sign of weakness, it is sign of incredible strength.

To all of our parents and carers, on behalf of our entire staff thank you for trusting us with the education of your son. It is a privilege and honour to be a part of their lives. We hope you feel as much part of the community of St Patrick’s College as your son does.

To the dedicated staff of St Patrick’s College. I am so very proud of each of you and the manner in which you have guided each student through their journey over the past six years in so many ways. Thank you for the selfless and immeasurable gift of your time, energy and encouragement. I want to thank Stephen Hill, Elizabeth Ryan and Julia Petrov for leading the College so superbly throughout my leave this year. We are so very fortunate to have such competent and passionate leaders.

And finally, to our graduating class of 2019. Firstly, to our student leaders, College Captain Aidan Hanrahan, Vice Captains Jobe Quick and Matthew Duffy, and the Student Council, thank you for your focussed and compassionate leadership this year. You have set the bar very high for next year’s student leaders and we thank you for your stewardship of the College. To all of our graduating class of 2019, thank you for the gift of your presence, not just this year, but throughout your journey at SPC. You are leaving SPC far richer for your contribution.

In finishing, I would offer the following to each of you:

Tell your family members you love them and tell them often, for our family is a place where we experience unconditional and unending love, and where we can truly be ourselves.

In a world that so desperately needs leadership of the heart and not the head, be prepared to stand up and use your voice. The challenge I put to each of you tonight is: what will you stand for? Everyone has to stand for something.

Always remember that the legacy of truly great leadership can’t be measured in terms of material wealth, but in the relishing of the precious chance to be with people.

And finally, always know there is a place for you at St Patrick’s College into the future. We want to hear about your pathways and achievements so keep returning to share your story as it unfolds for you.

Thank you and God bless each of you into the future.”