In the blink of an eye we have one again reached the end of another school year. It is hard to believe, and when we look back and consider what has been achieved, the experiences we have had, the joys we have shared and the difficult situations we have endured we will all agree we have crammed in a hell of a lot in the past twelve or so months. So welcome to this, my last blog for the year. Each year I seem to bemoan the business we experience at this time of the year and unfortunately this year is no different. It is always regrettable that this is how we find ourselves as it really should be a time to ease off, be more reflective and think about all the blessings we have enjoyed over the past year as well look forward to spending time with our family and friends over the Christmas period.
Given societies attempts to work us into a frenzy as we ‘shop til we drop and party like there is no tomorrow’, I encourage everyone in our community to be very conscious of not allowing family schedules, work commitments, personal agendas, meeting schedules, parties and all the other obligations to control our lives. Instead we need to make time to reflect on the miracle of the incarnation, the birth of Jesus. It is too easy to allow ourselves to be busier now than at any other time of the year when we ought to be slowing down.
For teachers, the malaise of correcting exams, finalising results, preparing family schedules, seeing to personal agendas of meetings, programs, parties and other obligations can make it doubly hard. However, they too need to be kind to themselves, take a deep breath, work methodically through the tasks at hand and ensure they get to Christmas in a fit state to enjoy the wonder it brings.
To add to the business of the end of year, on Tuesday evening, the College hosted in excess of 200 boys and their families who are to join us in Year 7 in 2020 for our Orientation Evening. In excess of 700 people gathered, marking the official beginning of their six year journey with us. It was a wonderful gathering in spite of the inclement weather, with all in attendance leaving with a sense of joy and excitement as they look forward to being a Salesian boy. Parents spoke of the warmth of the welcome and the night being very informative. We look forward to working with these fine young men and their families in the coming years. Sharing a meal and getting to know each other was the perfect way to establish the positive relationships which will hold us in good stead over the coming years. I would like to thank all the staff involved in this wonderful gathering, in particular Ms Christine Romano, Mrs Michelle Collins, the Parents Association led by Lois Curry and Tracy Stone, the Maintenance staff and all the Year 7 Oratory leaders for all their work and preparation.
This weekend marks the beginning of Advent, a very special part of the liturgical year for the Catholic Church. It is a time of preparation, of readying oneself for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The importance of Advent for all of us, in particular those of us who are Christian can never be lost in the consumerism of the secular world. Advent can provide a vision of our lives and shows us the possibilities of life. The vision of life that Advent gives us is twofold; it looks back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, and it looks to the future when Christ will come again. As we reflect on these two events we can find meaning for our life.
The incarnation, Jesus Christ showed us what it means to be fully human, he demonstrated what life can and should be. He gave us true and valid principles and values to live by. His Spirit remains with us in community, lived out through the Church, the sacraments, the Scriptures and each other, keeping his vision of life before us.
In the few short weeks of Advent we take in the magnificent vision of life and hope for the future given to us by Christ.
We encourage all in our community to take time out of their busy schedules and the general madness to take a quiet moment to allow some peace and stillness. Use advent as a time to take some quiet time to reflect on all that is happening around us and focus on the important things in our lives, our family and friends, people less fortunate than ourselves, those people for whom Christmas is a lonely or stressful time, and offer our thoughts and our prayers that they too may enjoy this wonderful time of the year. We hope and pray that all in our community will be contemplating using the upcoming Christmas break to spend some valuable time with their families, enjoying each other’s company and letting each other know how much they love them.
I am sure that our students will be looking forward with anticipation to the holidays they so passionately wait for each year. It is a break the vast majority of our boys deserve after they have applied themselves to their work throughout the year.
The College would like to recognise and thank the staff for their efforts over the year, some of which have continued right up until the last minute. Our Spring Concert, Orientation Evening, College Captains Conference are but a few of the activities staff have supported in the last week. It is hard for staff to truly appreciate their achievements at this time as they remain flat out, however, it is our fond hope that when all settles down they will reflect on this year and come to understand their significant contribution to your boys and the community.
At this time of the year there are always farewells to make as some staff start a new part of their lives. Some will continue their careers elsewhere, for others it’s the start of a completely new direction. We would like to farewell these staff and wish them all the best for 2020 and beyond. For those who are travelling we wish that all your dreams of adventures are more than you hope and for those taking up new positions we wish you every success.
We farewell Bonnie Bin Hu and Mary Cox who will take some maternity leave. We wish Noel McGarry, Andrew Schillaci, Mikeal Bloom, Eliza Weinberg, Samantha Curran, Emma Whitehouse, Ange Khurana and Michelle Pan every success as they continue their careers at other schools. Lorraine Ryan retires after a wonderful career whilst Tim James and Aleisha Shaw will further their studies. We also farewell Jack Palumbo after nine years in the very important role as Business Manager of the College. Jack has done a wonderful job and will be sorely missed. Whilst not leaving, Mr Neil Carter is stepping down as Deputy Principal after more than twenty years in this most important role. In my time Neil has been my confidante, a source of support and guidance. I will miss his close council and I wish him all the best as he transitions into retirement.
I ask all in the community to ponder the blessings in their lives, especially their family, friends and their health as well as the blessings that come with living in a country such as Australia. At the same time I encourage us to think about the people less fortunate than ourselves, in particular those afflicted by war and conflict, those people for whom Christmas is a lonely or stressful time, and offer our thoughts and our prayers that they too may enjoy this wonderful time of the year. We hope and pray that all in our community will be contemplating using the upcoming Christmas break to spend some valuable time with their families, enjoying each other’s company and letting each other know how much they love them.
To all in the community we hope that you have a merry, restful, joyful and peaceful Christmas. We hope your new year gets off to the perfect start and you return to us renewed and refreshed for what is promising to be another great year here at Salesian College Chadstone.