Principal’s Message

August 11, 2022

by Principal, Mr Steven O’Connor

SPC in Concert

On the evening of Thursday, 4 August a wonderful showcase concert was presented by a variety of SPC music ensembles at the Wendouree Performing Arts Centre. The standard of the ensembles was incredibly strong and encouraging. Reflecting the talent of our current students and boding well for future growth of the Music programme under the leadership of Mr Jerry Lau.

The ensembles included the Inter Concert Band, the Symphonic Winds Ensemble, the Winds of Fortune, the Senior Stage Band, the College Guitar Ensemble, the Contemporary Band, a Percussion Ensemble and a large Massed Band which presented a wonderful finale to close out the programme!

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire performance and was very proud of all of our musicians involved in the concert – well done and congratulations on your efforts!

My thanks of course goes to the Head of Music, Mr Jerry Lau, who put together the concert over the last 10-12 weeks and has done a wonderful job in engaging the boys so positively with Music and with a variety of ensembles and performance opportunities.  Thanks also to Mr Tim Snibson for the tremendous work he continues to do with our music program, to Ms Carol Roberts, Mr Will Stephens and Mr BJ Humphrey (some of our instrumental tutors) who clearly are impacting very positively on our musicians! Thanks also to Mrs Sonya Roberts for the great work she did in the lead up to the concert last week.

As we are now a member school of the ACC, some of our students are preparing for the major ACC Music Showcase event, ACCent on Music, to be held at Hamer Hall on Tuesday, 13 September. This event will provide a number of our musicians with a wonderful opportunity to perform with and amongst some talented students from the ACC network of schools. I wish all St Patrick’s College students involved in the ACCent on Music the very best as they continue to rehearse and prepare for their performances!

Herald Sun Shield Finals              

Congratulations to both teams (Intermediate and 1st XVIII) from St Patrick’s College for making their respective final of the Herald Sun Shield last week. I was pleased to be able to make it to the ground at Box Hill and to see the teams in action.

Well done to the Intermediate team for coming from behind in the final quarter to beat their rivals from Parade College. Their efforts in the final quarter showed their great determination and teamwork and resulted in a tremendous result for the team! Congratulations to Mr John Richards for coaching the team to this great win!

Well done to the 1st XVIII on their efforts in their final. It was a very tight and close game and the team from Whitefriars were stronger on the day and ended up winning the final by 7 points. The fact that our 1st XVIII have made it to the final of the Herald Sun Shield so often, speaks very loudly to the talent of the boys and the strengths of the programme which has been established and developed by Mr Howard Clark and many other staff over the last decade or so at the College. My thanks and congratulations goes to Mr Howard Clark and of course, Mr Gavin Webb, coach of the 1st XVIII for their tremendous work with the team in 2022.

Student Code of Conduct – Inclusive Assembly

This week a College assembly was held to highlight the importance of the Touchstone of Inclusive Community and at the same time, to launch the Student Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct is an important document which was developed through a series of workshops with students from Years 7 – 12 during the course of 2021.

At the assembly, a number of students and staff spoke to the Code of Conduct and to the significance and real meaning of being an inclusive community. Deng Lual spoke about acknowledging and welcoming students who come from countries other than Australia, particularly those who might be refugees, Samuel Clark spoke very well about our commitment to acknowledging and welcoming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, Xavier Orriss spoke about the importance of acknowledging, welcoming and supporting LGBTIA+ students and a member of staff, Ms Kate Millan, spoke about the importance of gender equity and respect for women in our school community.

When I addressed the assembly, I thanked the boys for speaking so well and so courageously about these elements of inclusivity. If we are to be genuinely inclusive as individuals and as a community, then we need courage, compassion, and openness. We need to allow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ to inform our actions and our outlook. We need to be entirely non-judgemental in our view of the community and as we establish, honour and nurture relationships with others around us. This is such an important part of who we are as a school – the strength of the St Pat’s community that we often talk about and the relationships that are the foundation of the community!

A wise person once indicated to me that we can never know exactly what is happening in the lives of those around us. We can never really know what is going on – we try to understand, we want to understand often – but we can probably never really know. It is not for us to judge others. Who knows what struggles or challenges face those with whom we work, study, and play each day.

Fr James Martin, a Jesuit priest from America wrote the following about the importance of being non-judgemental and being inclusive. Fr Martin wrote:

“What Jesus never said was:

  • Feed the hungry only if they have papers;
  • Clothe the naked only if they’re from your country;
  • Welcome the stranger only if there’s zero risk;
  • Help the poor only if it’s convenient; and
  • Love your neighbour only if they look like you”.

In this same vein, Pope Francis was asked about gay people and the Church’s view on them. The Holy Father wrote:

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’

We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being.

Pope Francis also wrote:

Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us.

The Student Code of Conduct is a document inspired and driven by the students of SPC. It reflects a genuine commitment to and understanding of the importance of welcoming all and honouring the dignity of every member of the College community.

I am proud that the students contributed so positively to the development of this Code. It will be distributed to each student in the next day or so, and added to the College website – there as a reminder of what the students have defined as what is important as rights and responsibilities to guide the journey of all students through the College.

It was a wonderful journey of student voice or agency and I thank all of those who participated and contributed to this last year.

When you receive your copy of the Code, please take some time to read it. In particular, listen to the messages captured in the following statements:

As a member of St Patrick’s College, I will ‘promote and model an attitude that champions diversity and holds respectful relationships in the highest regard.

As a member of St Patrick’s College, I will identify and call out all injustice, including prejudice such as racism, sexism, any form of violence, particularly against women, homophobia, transphobia, ageism and ableism.

These are simple yet powerful statements of commitment and they came from the workshops that many students contributed to during the course of last year with Mr Mike Silcock and myself. They are strong statements and I commend them to every student who is part of this great place.

I say to each and everyone here today, you are welcome, and you are important and honoured members of this community.

Please find a link to the Student Code of Conduct here.

Mr Steven O’Connor