March 18, 2022
by Principal, Mr Steven O’Connor
Happy St Patrick’s Day
This week the College gathered in prayer and celebration on the Feast Day of the patron saint of the College, St Patrick. As ever, these gatherings acknowledged and celebrated this great community, the heritage and history of a school in its 129th year, the strengths of the place and the excitement of the future of the College.
Following Mass led by Bishop Paul Bird, Bishop of Ballarat and College Patron and Fr Eladio, the College Chaplain, I addressed the boys at our St Patrick’s Day assembly. Here are some what I spoke of at this gathering:
Every day when I walk through the front gates of the College, I give thanks to God for the incredible opportunity to contribute to such a wonderful community as Principal; and I feel really grateful and happy to be working at this great place. I love St Pat’s and cannot think of anywhere else I would prefer to be! I think it is a beautifully presented and resourced school, there is, as well all know, a wonderful sense of community which we cherish; I am incredibly proud of the staff who contribute so generously to St Pat’s every day, I continue to be impressed by our extended community as evidenced in our very active and supportive Old Collegians’ Association and I am really proud of the young men who attend St Pat’s as students. Your energy, enthusiasm, humour, honesty, commitment and determination and your sense of fun continue to impress me in many areas.
Earlier this year, the College Leadership Team began the year via a three-day retreat a few weeks before the term started – planning and organising not only this year, but the years ahead for this great community. At this gathering, we reflected on an excerpt from a letter from St Paul to the Philippians. We thought it was an appropriate theme for the College this year. In his letter to the Philippians, St Paul says:
“My prayer for you is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognise what is best” (Philippians 1:9)
The message from Paul reflects much of what is great about St Patrick’s and the hopes and dreams I have for this place and especially for every single student who is a part of this community. My simple interpretation of this excerpt is that St Paul talks about the importance of relationships and the power of care and love in community – and that through honouring and nurturing these elements, the individual and the community collectively becomes wiser, is liberated, is more perceptive and knows what excellence looks like and what is just.
Brother Bill Wilding, former Headmaster of St Patrick’s College once said:
‘…at St Patrick’s you receive a Catholic education which is moulding your character, teaching you an appreciation of life, giving you a set of values, and so preparing you for happiness in the future…’
There is much of which we are proud here at St Patrick’s College, Ballarat!
Like Br Bill and the great educators who have gone before me and who have contributed significantly, I am enormously proud of the St Patrick’s community and of you, our current students. Do I have high expectations of you? Absolutely I do – simply because I want to see you be your best in all that you do. I expect you to honour the educational opportunities and embrace them with open arms. Do I think you can do better when it comes to your studies? The answer for many of you, is yes, I know that you can do better in most of your studies! In 2022, I want you to challenge yourselves to strive for improvement with every task and in every subject.
But at St Pat’s, there is much more to it, isn’t there? It is not only a clear expectation that you strive to achieve your best academically. It is more than doing your best when you take to the field to play sport. At St Patrick’s, you are expected to do all of this and to be a really good person; to stand in solidarity with those on the margins, to speak out when there is injustice, to be good neighbours, sportsmen, friends, citizens and partners, to be compassionate, gracious, generous and of course, to be respectful to all of those around you and in your lives, especially towards females. You are expected and encouraged to do the right thing, not because you think you are being watched but because you know that it is the right thing to do.
In this sense, I ask you to be mindful of the impact of conflict and war occurring around the world at the moment. Not three weeks ago, the people of Ukraine were living their lives not so differently to how we live our lives in Australia. How things can change so quickly at the whim of one person and his decisions. I ask you to be remember the people of Ukraine as they defend their own very special community against a tyrant, horror and violence.
Thank you boys, for the energy and joy you bring to the College. Please maintain your enthusiasm and your connections with each other and with your teachers. I wish to publicly acknowledge and thank all College staff – teachers, administration and support staff, our cleaners, property and maintenance staff – for the wonderful work that they do in providing the best possible educational setting and experience for all students.
To finish, I am pleased to let you know that we will start to make use of our beautiful new main oval next term. A lot of time and effort has gone into providing the best possible oval to the College community – I am looking forward to seeing it in use from next term. I am sure you agree that it looks fantastic and will be a great resource for years to come!
In addition to this, I am really pleased to announce that we will soon commence construction on our new Multi-Purpose or Performing Arts Centre. This facility will be a signature building at St Pat’s and will be built north of where we are seated now – from Kennedy House alongside the Food Tech classrooms and down onto the first of the basketball courts – this wonderful facility will provide some outstanding facilities for our Music and Drama programs, an auditorium which will seat 825 and which will be used for major performances, exams, dinners, community gatherings, exhibitions and for indoor PE and sporting activities.
An enormous amount of time and effort has gone into this project to date and I am excited about what this means for the College and its future offerings to our current students and future generations of students! I thank Mr Andrew Ballesty, our Business Manager here at the College for his significant stewardship of this significant capital development!
This building will be one of the most significant ever constructed at St Pat’s and I am excited about this important development. I am really pleased to share this great news with you on St Patrick’s Day!
I’d like to end with St. Patrick’s prayer:
May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us
Against the snares of the evil ones,
Against temptations of the world.
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Salvation, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.
HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY!
Mr Steven J O’Connor