Principal's Christmas Message - December 2016
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,
Below I have printed my House Graduation Principal's Address:
The French Jesuit priest and Philosopher Pierre de Chardin tells us…
You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience. This idea is one which has been rattling around in my head throughout this year. You see normally like most of us I spend my time focussed on the human world. I look after the human needs of my family my community and myself mostly in that order. At Marcellin that means attending to administration, Human resources, Building programs, teaching and learning initiatives and student wellbeing. I’m sure it’s the same for you in your work place, in your home. We do much to nourish our physical human needs but how are we at sustaining ourselves spiritually?
As you know this year I have had the opportunity to remove myself from my day to day role and to spend time discerning my personal theology and spirituality. I am so grateful for the support I have received from my family and from this community who have given me permission/licence to devote my energy and attention to this endeavour. So what has this experience taught me? How have I grown spiritually?
Well you might be disappointed to hear that I had no lightning bolt moments, epiphanies, or Damascus experiences. What I did discover is that spiritual nourishment for me does not come from specific places of religious significances or monuments and churches denoting particular events in history. It came to me from the people I met and the land I encountered. I discovered that the land is the fifth gospel, if you read it the world of the other four will open up to you. I discovered too that an encounter with the people of this land opened my eyes to a deepening of my relationship with others and with God. People of tremendous faith, courage, determination and humility often in the face of great difficulty and dysfunction. People who devoted their lives to nourishing others both in body and spirit, often at great personal cost.
So what does that mean for us here at Marcellin. It means that we don’t necessarily need to travel to places of religious significance to nourish our spirit, our soul. We can do so through our daily interactions with each other. We can seek out the face of God in others and be the face of God for others. For our boys that can mean providing them opportunities through our Social Outreach Programs like Cambodia or Bourke or Juvenile Justice or soup van. Equally it can mean providing opportunities for them to support each other in circle time in pastoral groups or reflecting on the bigger questions of life at the various retreat experiences. They can connect with the spiritual hiking through the bush on year 9 camp or sitting on a board at Anglesea on Year 8 camp. They can also experience the spiritual in the celebration of the Eucharist at our Thursday Mass or simply in the daily encounters with their mates.
At Marcellin we are about making Jesus known and loved. There are many entry points into that encounter. But to enter it we need to find time to nourish our own spirit. It is as important to our survival as eating and drinking.
Meanwhile the pragmatics of life in a big school community go on. It is an incredibly exciting time to be at Marcellin. Not just because of building developments, although it is pretty amazing to witness the physical develop of structures and spaces which up till recently were only in our imaginations. It’s exciting because we are currently in the midst of a number of review processes all aimed at improving the learning environment and assisting your sons to reach his full potential as a student in our great school. These include reviews of our Resource Centre, Careers support, Student Wellbeing and Learning structures. At the same time we are in the process of viewing our Master Plan as we discern the next stages of our building program.
Speaking of buildings you will have noticed that parts of Marcellin feel a little like a construction site. Having said that I am very grateful to our students as to how they have adapted to these changes and to our dedicated staff for the way they have maintained an appropriate and engaging learning environment.
All this is happening in an environment of sound financial management and an increasing demand for enrolments in our great school – What a vibrant and exciting place to be!
I finally take us back to where we started tonight to some more words of Fr Chardin who sums up what it means to live in the midst of a community characterised by faith and spirituality. We are one; after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the trust you have placed in our great school in 2016 to educate and support the growth of your sons toward manhood. May I wish you a very happy, holy and restful Christmas time as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace who brings with him great hope for our lives.