November 1, 2019
Dear Parents, Carers, Staff and Students of St Patrick’s College,
Last week, I was at a supermarket buying some ingredients for dinner. Whist lining up at the register, I noticed an elderly man at the checkout. He was frail and slow. He fumbled around for a considerable time searching his pockets for his money to pay the bill. A second person, younger in age, and waiting in line, became increasingly impatient waiting for the man to complete his purchase and decided to leave the supermarket without his items.
On my way home, and throughout the evening, I wondered about this brief and insignificant moment. I wondered about the frail old man. What was his story? What would life be like for him to navigate such a difficult journey each day to buy his dinner? I also wondered whether the second person saw his frailty and vulnerability, in addition to the frustration of the moment.
There are countless times throughout our day, both at school, in our community and at home, when we interact with other people. Whether it be in class, in the tuckshop line and in our conversations with other students and teachers, our daily interactions bring all of us face-to-face with others.
Sometimes, however, and for a variety of reasons, those people we encounter carry with them frailty and vulnerability, sometimes in a very obvious way, such as the elderly man, and sometimes silently. In our everyday interactions with people, do we see them deeply enough to wonder about their unique and special story, or do we see our interactions as part of life’s fleeting moments within the context of our own busyness?
Placing ourselves in the shoes of another person, is an incredibly powerful experience for all of us. It challenges us to consider our actions by asking the question: what would it feel like to experience this response? Over the past few days both myself and Mrs Ryan have spent considerable time speaking to some students about the importance of taking responsibility for their actions around a variety of issues, including respectful behaviours in and out of the classroom. In doing so, we have challenged students to reflect on the impact of their choices on others around them.
In the Gospels, Jesus offers us many examples of the transformative power of discovering the unique story of every individual. His example shows us that in seeing the “other”, we begin to change the lives of those we meet. We build a culture that is respectful of every person. We bring hope and joy to everyone we meet. Most significantly, in discovering the dignity of others, we discover our own dignity.
Have a great long weekend.
Mr John Crowley