Congratulations to all those who were involved in making our albeit intimate May Procession such a wonderful celebration. Despite the wet weather it was delightful to see so many old boys return to the College for this very special celebration. Mrs Jennie Hickey our special guest on the day gave a very engaging and pertinent address. Excerpts can be found below.
In my preparation for today, I was drawn to three qualities which were evident in the lives of both Blessed Mary and Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice that provide inspiration to all of us and which we should aim to develop in our own lives.
The first is courage.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to invite her to be the mother of Jesus she was confronted with the risk of being cast aside from her family, being discarded by Joseph and being stoned to death.
The angel’s appearance to Mary is regarded as one of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary but I am quite positive that at the time of this annunciation, Mary would have initially had a range of feelings about what was she was being invited to do. I often ponder the magnitude of the request made of her, and her courageous affirmative response.
And what of Joseph? I suspect Joseph would have been somewhat bewildered by Mary’s impending pregnancy. Whilst we know the angel appeared to him to explain the situation, what courage it must have taken for him to say to her “I believe you, and I will stand beside you.”
Working with his uncle’s exporting and importing commercial ventures, Edmund Rice was a talented salesman with skills that contributed to the success and expansion of his uncle’s business. I imagine he would have spent many hours working tirelessly to ensure the success of his business and establish a comfortable lifestyle for his pregnant wife. When his wife sustained severe
injuries following a fall from a horse and unable to fight the accompanying fever, he was left widowed with a disabled child. A situation he could not have possibly predicted.
What courage would he have needed to cope with these changed circumstances?
Courage is an attribute that makes us worthy of respect and in some cases attracts notoriety. Most recently we witnessed this when antitheist, Dr Richard Harris and retired vet, Dr Craig Challen were named Australians of the year for their courageous efforts in helping to rescue the 12 young Thai boys and their football coach from the flooded Tham Luang cave in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand last year. Their own cave-diving holiday plans were interrupted when they were called upon to join the team who worked under extreme and risky conditions to rescue the boys.
Interruptions stop us in our tracks and challenge us to reframe our thinking and alter our course of action. Sometimes the interruptions are short lived and at other times they set us on a course far different from where we had imagined we were headed.
The second quality I wish to focus on is resilience.
The Harvard Business School believes any business today needs a workforce that is resilient. They say that a resilient workforce will have the capacity to handle difficulties, demands, and high pressure without becoming stressed, will have the ability to respond flexibly and adapt to changing circumstances and bounce back from defeat and disaster.
Mary and Edmund showed great resilience.
To be resilient is to face reality, have a purpose and connect with something greater than ourselves. Mary accepted the invitation given by the Angel to be the mother of Jesus because her faith was what gave her a sense of purpose. In the ensuing years of his changed circumstances, Edmund Rice searched to find greater meaning in his life and established not only schools to educate the poorer boys in Kilkenny but to found two religious orders of Brothers – the Society of the Presentation and the Congregation of the Christian brothers. His work soon spread throughout Ireland and eventually to other parts of the world.
Some 200 years later, his tradition of offering a liberating education, based on a gospel spirituality, within an inclusive community committed to justice and solidarity is offered to yourselves and another nearly 40,000 young men and women in Australia.
Mary and Edmund lived lives that achieved much. They were inspired and directed by love, a love for God, a love for something beyond themselves. When we act from this same base, we can do great things.
Some amongst your school mates are doing that now. I commend Tom Carey for his commitment to the Leukaemia Foundation following the death of his sister. I also commend those of you who regularly volunteer to programs such as Redfern Jarjum College, the Holdsworth community or the Matt Talbot Hostel. Others of you work diligently to raise funds for Caritas, not to mention Ned Weiland who is the youngest male to have achieved the triple Crown of Open Water Swimming last year. Congratulations on such endeavours Ned, and what is most inspiring is that you are combining your success with raising funds for the RUOK? charity.
This is the message I hope you take with you today. Find a purpose that is greater than yourself, that is based on love, because then you will be able to be courageous and resilient as was Mary and Blessed Edmund Rice. Then YOU too will live extraordinary lives.
CAS Ecumenical Service
The annual CAS Ecumenical Service was held on Monday the 6th of May at Barker College. Waverley College was represented by six outstanding Year 11 students; Sebastien Richardson, Maksymilian Klimczak, Christopher Salem, Noah Ratcliff, Patrick Smith and Andre Bonani.
Throughout the afternoon the student representatives from all the CAS schools discussed and learned how to engage in more effective storytelling and public speaking. Afterwards, the students participated in an ecumenical chapel service and sung hymns, embodying the spirit of the CAS.
Ultimately, it was a great experience that resulted in our representatives meeting other like-minded students from around the area and helped them learn some valuable life lessons.