End of Term 4 Assembly

Good afternoon Fr Greg, students and staff,

I extend a warm welcome to you as we gather face-to-face as a community for first time in some months. I am joyful that we finally get an opportunity to come together as a community, in what is my first term as Principal.

In recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ spiritual and cultural connection to Country and a commitment to Reconciliation, I would like to acknowledge the First Peoples and the Traditional Owners and custodians of the Country on which Salesian is located.

We respectfully acknowledge our Elders past and present and remember that they have passed on their wisdom to us in various ways. Let us hold this in trust as we work and serve our communities.

Today we have had the opportunity to celebrate student success in various pursuits at the College. Many boys have been recognised for many different aspects of school life…this is a good thing for the school, that each of you can contribute your God given talents in a variety of ways that encompass your faith journey, service to the community, academic studies, music and drama performance. A patron saint of the College, St Francis de Sales spoke to the heart of this – “Be who you are and be that well.”

Celebrating the service and achievements of the young men in our community provides me with hope and optimism.

Our 2021 Strenna, Moved by Hope, released by the Rector Major, Fr Angel Fernamdez Artime, challenges us to reflect upon our world, our interactions with society and others, and how we each can be moved by hope to create new beginnings or opportunities.

For me personally, this year has been a year of renewal and making things new – starting a family, having courage to apply for a new role, accepting the Principal role at this great school, and building new relationships.

In each step, I have been moved by hope.

I am buoyed by new attitudes and experiences I have encountered at Salesian this Term, particularly events of the past fortnight – classroom visits, watching junior cricket, presenting at the VCAL information evening, thanking our Tour Guides, witnessing the Year 7 reflection day and celebrating our Year 12s finish to secondary school with their parents and teachers. It has given hope and a sense of energy that we are indeed moving into a post-COVID society.

I am Moved by hope.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the ACC Student Leadership event at St Joseph’s College, Geelong. Each College Captain spoke and they highlighted the connection that we have between our ACC schools by our Catholic faith and values.

I can assure you Daniel and Mitchell were fantastic in representing our great school.

Hope and optimism was projected as each young leader spoke eloquently about the role each of you play in our Catholic schools to learn, promote, advocate and question challenging societal issues.

Don Bosco found himself in turbulent times with many young boys without education, skills, jobs or permanent residence. He came across those who did not want him to succeed. He lived and worked through the cholera outbreak, the changing times of the industrial revolution.  His aim was, regardless of the situation everything he did was done with optimism and hope. Don Bosco led with reason and religious conviction to change and serve the communities he encountered.

We too are challenged to lead with hope and optimism to foster positive culture and perspectives regarding reconciliation, gender equality, environmental stewardship and male masculinity. These are all issues spoken passionately by the school leaders last night; they want to champion for change.

To you, the young men in our hall today, you are empowered to be men of hope to bring about change to respect and support the dignity of all in our community. The Salesian Rector Major emphasizes that, “as a Salesian Family, we must be signs of charity and hope. Our College values of respect, integrity, belonging, joy and dynamism help guide us in this service and underpin our actions.

It has been wonderful to witness at our assembly today, boys who have served others in our community through leadership roles, community engagement and school events and activities. Thank you. Being there for others doesn’t cost anything and brings a lot of joy.

I too wish to acknowledge and thank Fr Greg Chambers for his service and dedication to Salesian College over many years as a student, Principal, Rector, Board Chair, colleague and friend to many. All the best for your work in Auckland, New Zealand.

As the end of the liturgical year finishes this weekend, we are filled with joy, renewal and hope as we enter the time of Advent. It is a time of joy as we look forward to the birth of Christ being in our presence and an opportunity for family and friends to be together.

I wish each of you a safe and prayerful Christmas with family and friends. My hope for each of you is that it is a time of renewal and optimism.

Take care.

Mark Ashmore