Last week, the College sent out Father’s Day cards in lieu of not being able to celebrate Father’s Day with Mass and breakfast. It’s a small gesture to try to maintain the connection to community we have built up in partnership with our families over the past few years. Father’s Day, along with other occasions such as Mother’s Day, birthdays, and feast days are all reminders to acknowledge the contribution people have made or make to our lives and the lives of others. With this in mind I take this opportunity to thank the many fathers, grandfathers, other significant males in the lives of our boys. Whilst we can become a little cynical about days like Father’s Day and the commercialism of it, if we take the time to reflect on the importance of fathers and other significant males in our lives it can become a very uplifting occasion.
This year I want to use Father’s day to make my point for the week. I want to talk about choices, choices we make constantly and the consequences of our choices. Everyday choices are made, often without too much thought for the ultimate outcome or the responsibilities linked to our choice.
Choosing to become a father is one of life’s ultimate choices as it remains with you for the rest of your life. The consequences of such a choice are great joy but also immense challenges, at times frustrations, and always great responsibility. Choosing to be a father remains one of the greatest choices I have made in my life. I constantly reflect on how fortunate I am to have made this choice. To be blessed with three beautiful children, all who have brought wonderful partners into my family, and now I have three extraordinary grandchildren with another on the way all because of a choice I made just over thirty years ago. Being a dad is the most important job I’ll ever have. A job that neither I nor any father ever received formal training for, a job where there is no retirement age, a job we will never master, but a job that brings the greatest of joys and the deepest of learnings. A job that defines who we are. A job I believe I have no choice but to continue because of my original choice.
Choosing to become a parent demands us to make family our greatest priority, ensure our children never have a moment’s uncertainty about whether they are loved, that they are believed in, that they are supported, or whether they belong. These are the great responsibilities choosing to be a parent demands of us.
I also believe choosing to be a parent requires us to be lifelong learners, opening ourselves up to things we can learn from our kids. The influence our children can have on us as parents is widely under-rated. I know that I’m continuing to learn and change through my kids every day. I think parents spend twenty years raising their kids, and about half-way through that process, the kids start raising their parents in return. In the end, everyone is better off – the older generation passes on its wisdom to the young, and the younger generation keeps us in touch, keeps us young.
Given that it is not everyday we make big life decisions like taking on parenthood, why is it that I have used this anecdote to emphasize choice? I think that like choosing to be a parent, many of the choices we make have life-long ramifications. Simple choices like taking on a pet has implications for the next 10 to 15 years. Time, money and caring for another creature are all responsibilities associated with making such a choice. But let me look at choices even less substantial and their consequences. In lockdown all of us will be making choices daily which will impact us long into the future. Choosing to abide by the restrictions has multiple social consequences for ourselves as well as others. Choosing our activity levels impacts our health both immediately and future. One of the bigger choices our boys will be making daily in lockdown is whether or not to continue to engage in their learning. In the face of the challenges remote learning gives us, some boys will make poor choices and drop off, hindering the learning today, but the real question is, what will be the long-term consequences of their choices? How will taking the easy way out now impact on their lives into the future?
So I go back to my original point of making big choices. We should always endeavour to make sure our choices are future focused, they should take into account the responsibilities they will place on us and make sure they will allow us to reach a future goal. They should never have a short-term focus, especially if they are likely to cause further issues for us into the future. Many of the choices we face can be difficult and we often are unsure if the choices we make will benefit us in the long run, but this is life, and we have to back ourselves and make choices based on good information and good intentions. Most times, we will get it right. So choose wisely!
We look forward to this week with great anticipation. Our Virtual Don Bosco Oratory Week provides our community with the opportunity to come together to celebrate our history and those who have gone before us, who we are as members of the Salesian College Community and what it means to be a part of a vibrant, living, learning and growing community even when in isolation.
We encourage the boys to participate in the activities provided, to enter into the walk to raise funds for the Salesian Missions in Cambodia, attend community sessions, and participate in the trivia competition, all culminating in our Salesian Festival Day and Omnia Award presentation on Friday.
As the leader of such a community I sit back with a great deal of pride and bask in the knowledge that we are going a long way towards meeting out mission of revealing the good news to all and building a strong community.