I extend a warm welcome to all who are reading.
I am not sure if I am the right person to be delivering this speech considering my short time at the College. In saying this, Mary has been a significant influence on me and will leave a lasting impression.
I start this with one main regret working with Mary:
The time working with Mary has not been long enough.
Mary’s connection to the College and the Salesians started early. Picture a young girl collecting the football as it rolled down the hill toward Timmings Street after the Old Collegians kicked a goal. The role earnt Mary pocket money which she spent on the canteen.
Mary was one of a few select girls from Scared Heart to attend school as a student at Salesian College in her final year of school.
As a mother, Mary spent the formative years of her three boys at home developing them to have a strong work ethic and values.
After 12 years looking after three boys under 4 years Mary decided to embark on re-establishing her career by joining Salesian College in 1996. This year represented the first of 25 years Mary has devoted to the College.
Mary vividly remembers the phone call from Fr Greg Chambers at 8:00pm one evening in 1996 that “I think I want to offer you the job.” The job was to run the Uniform Shop from the Murdoch building. The work was positively received and the hours extended to support Amor and Claire in Finance. Whilst unfamiliar with the work Mary always strove to do her best to support the College. Mary demonstrated her adaptability and willingness to learn in the role.
Opportunities were provided by Principal’s who saw Mary’s aptitude to work and kindness.
Mary spent 19 years as the College Registrar. It was in this role she experienced great joy working with our student tour guides and students and parents during morning tours. Mary was instrumental in developing the ‘Salesian Kid Program’, Becchi transition and links to the primary schools. Upon employing her to the role, Fr Greg challenged Mary to, “Be the face of Salesian”. Having enrolled what is estimated to be 3,800 students and families, Mary has indeed become the face of the College through her warmth, welcome and respect for all.
For a number of years, Mary was both the Registrar and Personal Assistant to the Principal.
It was to my surprise when I arrived that Mary was doing more than the role of a PA. Whilst it is not unusual that roles evolve, Mary was doing the role of PA, HR, Risk, Scholarships and Admin temp work. As we know she did then all without complaint and at an extremely high standard.
In her role as Personal Assistant to the Principal, Mary has been loyal, committed and supportive. She has served the College Advisory Council, now College Board. She has worked to support the Leadership Team and humbly accepted the invitation to be an active member of the Leadership Team at the beginning of Term 4 last year which she has enjoyed being able to see and contribute to “the whole picture of the College”. Involvement with the Salesians has brought much joy to Mary, particularly the relationship with the community who were fond of her baking and the joy of facilitating the APSA conference.
In her own words, the “gathering around the kitchen bench” has been a feature of her work in supporting and challenging the thinking of others so they refine their thinking and grow as people. She is the well of knowledge. You are all aware that if you don’t know something then it is wise to speak to Mary. Interestingly, there is no one group or type of role that gathers at the desk – Mary welcomes and includes all in her work, making you feel valued in her genuine interest in you and your family.
Mary often said, “I never get through my list to complete during the day.” Mary, the unspoken or understated work you have provided staff, parents and students with loving kindness has had a much greater impact on that person than the list of tasks.
Please never underestimate the effect your kind nature, warm smile and consistent presence had on all of us.
Your care, thoughtfulness and generosity were evident in organising a card, flowers or gift for important moments such as weddings, funerals, births or illness.
I think those who know Mary and her work, we can all agree with Fr Greg’s statement that she has been the embodiment of St Francis de Sales’ ‘all things to all people’ and Don Bosco’s ‘reason, religion and loving kindness’ at Salesian. He went on to say, “Mary treated all comers with equal respect, patience and courtesy at all times. And that’s not easy to do.”
Mary has also had an influence on the College’s Catholic identity and values. It was her wonderful thought to ensure the cross in the new Cooper building was in a predominant position so all who entered Salesian new that we were a Catholic school. Another legacy was the addition of the stunning metal casted values that sit in the stairwell of the building.
I finish with the notion of purpose.
Mary, your work has always been in the best interest of why each of us are here at Salesian, the STUDENTS. I understand that you ask the question each day, “Did I do something for the boys today?” Daniel Amendola highlights the impact you have had on our boys.
“Your kind, nurturing and caring attitude are inspiring characteristics, that I’m sure we all hope to embody in our lives. The work you have continued to do behind the scenes is something that has never gone unnoticed by neither myself or the rest of the boys here at Salesian College.
If we can each leave the College each day and ask ourselves “Did I do something for the boys today” with heart and mind then it will be a last legacy to Mary and ensure our boys are well catered.
A parent commented that “the whole community will miss you dearly no doubt and you should be proud of how much you have contributed and how much impact you have created in people’s lives.”
Mary, you are welcome any time at Salesian.
Thank you for your support of me as the new Principal. I was welcomed, supported and valued. I know I am not the only person in the room today to have experienced your loving kindness.
I wish you all the best for your retirement as you spend time with Paul, family and your grandkids and for exciting travel opportunities.
Thank you and God bless.