Principal's Blog - 30 March 2017

26 Mar 2017

Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,

I often ponder this reflection, inspired by the words and actions of one of the great heroes of the Church, Archbishop Oscar Romero:

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

As a parent and educator of young people there are times when I am uncertain whether or not I am making any real and tangible difference in the lives of those I am called to serve, mentor, love and support each day.

Every day at Marcellin we provide many formal programs, events and experiences for our young men that we hope will help to build their character and their faith. We also aim to provide them with the skills and knowledge they need to grow to become what our founder would describe as good Christians and Good Citizens. Every day too as parents I am sure you provide an environment and a relationship with your children which you hope will support this same end. The question I’m sure we all ask ourselves is; how do we really know whether these opportunities, encounters and experiences have made some sort of positive and lasting impression?

At Marcellin I am fortunate to observe the growth and development of young men in many moments both formal and informal. One example occurred last week as I was wandering up to Rivat House for a meeting. I noticed a group of Year 12 students entering the same building to attend their Chinese class. I recognised these boys as the students who, four years ago, were the first Marcellin boys to attend the six week long Young Leaders to China Program. Following this class I asked their teacher, Brendan Corney, whether he believed that this program had made a difference to the boys results in this subject. Brendan’s response was a very positive one with regards to the students abilities and prospects as students of Chinese. More than this, Brendan spoke glowingly about the boys cultural awareness, understanding and maturity which he believed was attributed to their time living in that country.

A second, more personal example occurred in the most unlikely of circumstances. I was at the service station not long ago filling my car when a young man pulled up at the next pump.  As we both went to pay he approached me and told me that he was one of my students from a previous school I had worked at. This young man had been a spirited student who had struggled at times to really connect with school life. He spoke with pride about how he was now a successful plumber and had just started his own business. He spoke with confidence, maturity and pride about his wonderful achievements. We parted company, but as he was about to drive away the young man called out to me saying that he still had the prayer that I had given them in Year 9 RE many years before. He said that was on his wall at home and that he still thought about it often. He smiled and was gone.

There are times as parents we can become a little exasperated and discouraged. We can feel that our efforts to support our children to grow to become positive, ethical and productive contributors to society is a transparent sham. My only feeble advice in these circumstances is, never give up. I believe that persistence and unconditional love will generally triumph in the end. I also believe that it is in these moments of difficulty and despair that the strength, wisdom and love of God can gently sustain me and guide me . I again draw on the words inspired by Romero, a man who experienced discouragement more than most and who never got the chance to witness the abundant fruits of his labours.

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Mark Murphy