Where are they now – Dr Peter Casey AM (former Headmaster)
December 7, 2020
The College recently reconnected with Dr Peter Casey AM, who was Headmaster of St Patrick’s College between 2002-2015. Peter was responsible for many great achievements during his era at SPC and to our delight, remains a regular guest at our many functions.
What were your various roles and responsibilities during your time at SPC?
From January 2002 until January 2015 I had the joy of being Headmaster of St Patrick’s College, and having the time of my life, meeting a myriad of incredible students and their marvellous parents who supported the College in so many diverse ways from canteen to the arts to sports to the Board. Any success we had I always put down to the positive can-do attitude of the staff who were motivated to work for the best of outcomes for their boys!
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
I was fortunate to be able to choose the timing of my finishing up at SPC. In 2015 I worked three days a week as a senior consultant to Stephen Elder, Executive Director of Catholic Education Melbourne and the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria. This very interesting work came to a dramatic halt in March 2016 with complications from my previous surgery and radiotherapy for prostrate cancer. I had 12 months of serious problems until further surgery in April 2017. Since then I have written a few research papers for Catholic education and professional associations of Catholic principals, something I still enjoy immensely, along with dispensing my advice freely! Family, friends and three grandsons take up my core time quite happily, having retired to Soldiers Hill in central Ballarat.
Which staff member from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
How long is a piece of string? I could get myself into awful trouble by naming names so I will play safe by using an expression I detest: “You know who you are!” I am eternally grateful to the senior staff who gave the impetus to change for the better, led by Rob Brennan as Deputy Headmaster (2002-2006), Mark Waddington as Development Manager and Director of Boarding (2002- 2011) and John Christie as Director of Administration (2002-2007).
Which student from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
There have been so many students worthy of mention but if I were to single out two at my peril they would be Lachlan Keen (College Captain 2003) and Chris Nolan (College Captain 1985). Lachlan was an outstanding student leader in all regards but especially in modelling Edmund Rice’s values of inclusion and outreach. It was he who put the college back in touch with Chris Nolan who was also an outstanding student leader, lawyer and community entrepreneur as co-founder of the Meredith Music Festival before being struck by a brain acquired injury which has left him locked in a profoundly disabled body and communication system. Both Chris and Lachlan live every day to the full and continue to make a difference for themselves and for others.
What are some of the achievements of which you are most proud?
- The Chris Nolan Awards introduced in 2008 to give recognition to academic achievers at all year levels twice a year;
- The Indigenous Program from humble beginnings in 2003 to a flourishing programme today;
- Programs to make the Old Collegians feel welcome to the college and working to ensure that their organisation and gatherings flourish;
- Fee relief to overcome families’ inability to pay SPC’s mounting fees;
- Scholarships to stop the leeching of talented students and sportsmen to local and Melbourne independent schools;
- The Flanagan Prize and Art Exhibition.
What do you think the staff and the boys would remember most about you?
I am always happy to be greeted by ‘Hi, Doc’ which was typical of the good-natured relationship of Patty Boys – on a good day they were prepared to treat me as an equal!
Where was your favourite place in the College?
The Chapel: as a student of the Christian Brothers, I was taught that we should start and end our day with prayer. Living in McCunnie House it was easy for me to walk to and from my office via the Sturt Street side of the Chapel. This enabled three things:
- the sight of the front gardens to make me grateful for being at the College each day,
- time in the morning in the Chapel to seek forgiveness for the mistakes I would make that day and the people I would upset,
- time in the evening to thank God for all who had blessed my day.
What was your favourite College event?
Any time we gathered as a community to celebrate: our shared heritage, our achievements, our grief, our faith and our joy. We did celebration well and often!!
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
The four rules are still important, despite being lost in translation by some of my friends:
- Keep yourself nice
- Do the crime, do the time
- Forgive and forget, because life is too short
- Never leave anyone in any doubt that you love them