Headmaster’s Message – October 18, 2019

October 18, 2019

Dear Parents, Carers, Staff and Students of St Patrick’s College,

It is with great energy and excitement that I write my first Crest article for Term 4. As everyone will be aware, I have been away for the past two Terms: Term 2 as leave, and Term 3 as Acting EREA Regional Director for the Southern Region. Throughout my time as Acting Regional Director I had the privilege of working with a number of other school communities in Melbourne, Geelong and Hobart, all of whom are in the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice. And while I enjoyed this experience immensely, I missed greatly, the wonderful community of St Patrick’s College- the staff, parents and students. I look forward to the coming years as Headmaster where we continue our journey to provide ever increasing opportunities for the students we care for and educate, and where we remain united in actions and deeds as a faith community committed to the Gospel of Jesus.

It is important for me to acknowledge the outstanding leadership of Acting Co-Headmasters, Mr Stephen Hill and Mrs Elizabeth Ryan throughout my absence from the College, together with Julia Petrov who took on the role of Acting Deputy Headmaster. Stephen, Elizabeth and Julia have led the school superbly and I thank them, both personally, and on behalf of the entire community. We are blessed to have leaders of such integrity and commitment.

As Parents and Carers will be aware, Term 4 is an important landmark moment in the College year. Most significantly, it marks the final stretch of a six-year journey for our Year 12 cohort. I am so pleased to hear that our Year 12’s have been superb leaders within the College in 2019. There is no question in my mind that the College is richer for the contribution and presence of our Year 12 students. I would remind all students in Year 12 of the importance of finishing the year in the same manner that you have led the school. We trust each of you to remain respectful in your actions, at all times.

In the final week of formal classes, and throughout your examinations, it is critical that each student remembers that the College, and your teachers, are there to provide any support and assistance you require. Examinations can, for some, create stress, both for students and parents and it is important for you to know we are here to help. My key message here is to please keep the lines of communication open at all times.

Term 4 is also a significant moment in the journey of students throughout Years 7-11. It represents the final eight-weeks of effort where assessment tasks become more frequent, culminating in a variety of examinations designed to investigate each student’s understanding of the work explored in class throughout the Semester. All students are reminded that it is the expectation of the College that each student remains fully committed to their final examinations. This is the responsibility of each student. We anticipate that examination results reflect, in the judgement of the classroom teacher, that students have given their very best and have achieved their potential in each of their subjects. The College Calendar provides for a call-back day on December 9 for those students who have not demonstrated these expectations.

This Friday, the annual MENtal Brekky was held in the OCA Pavilion. This event has become a strong feature of our commitment to supporting mental health initiatives within the community of Ballarat. Over 240 people attended the event, designed to remove the stigma often associated with speaking openly about mental health-related issues for men. I would like to offer my formal acknowledgement to the Development Office for doing such a wonderful job in organising this event. I offer the following as an explanation of the MENtal Brekky initiative from our College Website:

The inaugural MENtal Brekky has been organised by a group of passionate Old Collegians with the aim of raising funds for and awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues among men.Research indicates that around 23% of all children in Australia have a parent who suffers from a mental health disorder.The group of Old Boys, working in conjunction with the College, the OCA and the Foundation, will establish the Chris Yeung Fund which will aim to provide fee relief for boys in our community who have members of their family suffering mental health problems.
Chris Yeung (SPC 1975-81), a former student and parent of St Patrick’s College, was just 52 years old when he died in 2015. He had struggled with psychosis since his twenties, ultimately defying it on his own terms.

During this period Chris was an employee, a business owner, a good friend, a loving partner and a father to two magnificent young men -“ Oliver (SPC 2005-10) and Elliott (SPC 2009-14).
Chris was genuinely concerned for other men who were suffering from a mental health disorder.

He considered himself lucky with a supporting and loving family. He personally knew of others who were not so fortunate. He had strong empathy with these men and yet, tragically, chose a path used by so many of his contemporaries.
Even with this close family support, Chris rarely engaged in open and frank conversations about his illness with his friends. Mental illness continues to be something that is not discussed openly and readily in society.
The MENtal Brekky aims to address that issue by ensuring Chris’ legacy is one that encourages us to acknowledge the impact of mental illness and its impact upon society. In doing so, we hope that men can open up about their experience and share, without prejudice, their journey and hopes for the future.

Finally, as a Catholic school in the tradition of Edmund Rice, I offer the following prayer that I have reflected on often over the past months as a source of inspiration and renewed energy for our journey throughout Term 4.

O God, we thank you for the life of Edmund Rice.
He opened his heart to Christ present in those oppressed by poverty and injustice.
May we follow his example of faith and generosity.
Grant us the courage and compassion of Edmund
As we seek to live lives of love and service.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen

Have a great weekend

Mr John Crowley