Good morning Fr Joe, students and staff,
Welcome to our final assembly celebration to conclude Semester 1. I trust that each member of our community has endeavoured to work hard to allow their God given talents to shine this term.
Acknowledgement to Country
I recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ spiritual and cultural connection to Country and a commitment to reconciliation, I acknowledge the First Peoples and the Traditional Owners and custodians of the Country, the Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin nation.
I respectfully acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging 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.
This week is Refugee Week in Australia, a national celebration that raises awareness of the issues affecting refugees. I acknowledge the refugees in our community, students who with their family have come to Australia due to conflict, dictatorship, natural disasters or famine to find freedom.
The wonderful aspect of our community is that regardless of our diversity and differences we all share a common vision:
A dynamic, joy-filled Catholic learning community, Salesian College inspires all boys to strive for excellence in the spirit of Don Bosco.
We are a place of welcome and inclusion, a home. We are a safe haven for all in our community where respect and loving kindness are evident in our actions.
Nine weeks ago, we welcomed Fr Angel Artime, the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco to Chadstone. As the Salesian leader of the order globally he greeted us and demonstrated warmth, love and generosity, dispositions well known to the Salesians.
Throughout the term I have often reflected upon the Rector Major visit.
In this hall, Fr Angel shared with us the importance of dreams, sharing the story of a nine-year-old Don Bosco who at the time lived with his mother Margherita at Becchi in the hills of Castelnouvo, Italy.
I dreamed that I was near my home, in a very large playing field where a crowd of children were having fun. Some were laughing, others were playing and quite a few were cursing. I was so shocked at their language that I jumped into their midst, swinging wildly and shouting at them to stop.”
“At that moment a Man appeared, nobly attired, with a strong and imposing bearing. He was clad with a white flowing mantle and his face radiated such light that I could not look directly at him. He called me by name and told me to place myself as leader over those boys, adding the words, “You will have to win these friends of your not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness.
Gentleness and loving kindness.
Gentleness and loving kindness.
Each Monday I share this story of Don Bosco’s dream to prospective parents on our Monday tours. Why? Because what separates our community from other communities is that we are called to live like St John Bosco, to live with gentleness and loving kindness.
Our College values of Respect and Belonging are tangible ways that we can demonstrate Don Bosco’s dream to others.
- a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something prompted by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
- due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of other
Respect means that you accept somebody for who they are, even when they’re different from you or you don’t agree with them. Respect in your relationships builds feelings of trust, safety, and wellbeing.
What respect is not includes the following examples;
- disrupting the learning environment for others
- dropping litter on the ground
- pushing, hitting or excluding another person
- spreading rumours or innuendo about another person
- deliberately damaging our College facilities
- posting inappropriate content or threats on social media about another person
- making a choice to not wear the correct uniform or be cleanly shaved
- not being your best every day in your studies and relationships
In our Salesian community respect involves;
- demonstrating gentleness, love, compassion, empathy, politeness, care towards someone or something
- being aware of diversity and welcoming and including people into conversations and activities
- having a love of learning and looking for ways to find joy in the classroom
- actively listening to one another
- acknowledging and celebrating our diversity
In my dream I see you, the young people, being the future leaders not only of our community here at Chadstone but of other communities.
Like Don Bosco for the youth of his time, I dream that each of you will leave Salesian and be the difference in our society – as a good Christian and honest citizen grounded in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
We are called to serve others and make a difference.
John Bosco demonstrated Jesus’s teaching to love thy neighbour and to respect the dignity of all.
He invites us to join him on this same path.
Each of you will leave Salesian College Chadstone at the end of your schooling with a gift. It is a gift that resonates within. I personally experienced this gift over 20 years ago and it has stayed with me and since guided my actions. The gift is that you experience and live our Salesian charism, a charism that is lived out through our values of respect, belonging, integrity, joy and dynamism.
Pope Francis wrote to the Salesians in 2020: “I would like to offer you these words as your ‘Good Night’ – just like those that take place in every Salesian House at the end of the day – inviting you to dream and to dream big – knowing that all the rest will be given to you in addition. Dream of open, fruitful, and evangelizing Houses capable of allowing the Lord to show very many young people His unconditional love and to permit you to enjoy the beauty to which you were called. Dream… not only for yourselves and for the good of all the young people who are deprived of the strength, light, and comfort found in friendship with Jesus Christ, deprived of a community of faith that includes them, and deprived of a horizon that holds life and its meaning. Dream… and help others dream!”
I want you each to dream big so that you find meaning, purpose and enjoyment in your life.
Term 3 is an opportunity for you to dream big.
The relic statue of St John Bosco will be touring Australia as part of the celebrations of the centenary of the arrival of the Salesians in Australia. The wax replica of the saint contained in a glass casket comes from the province of Hong Kong and will be at Chadstone week one of term. Small bones from the right hand and arm of the Saint were removed and placed in this wax replica before being securely concealed in the large glass casket. In the Catholic Christianity, a relic is of immense reverence, and helps to remind individuals of the holiness of a saint, the fulfillment of God’s work through the saint and an opportunity to pray.
The College Sacramental Program is unique to Salesian and allows our students to experience the sacraments of the Church as part of their own spiritual journey.
Don Bosco Oratory Week is an annual highlight on our College calendar. A week of celebrations, the week animates our Salesian charism and values through liturgy, festival and fun activities.
Each of you will soon be selecting subjects for the 2024 academic year. Important discussions regarding aspirations and how to achieve such goals is important each of you so that you enjoy and remain focussed on your studies.
There are many opportunities for you to dream big.
The Rector Major’s dream is that we will trust and believe more in our young people and in the generations that will follow us. I too share this dream for each of you, our students in our community.
During the visit the Rector Major asked each of you, “Do you have a dream?” Almost everyone put their hand up to indicate that they had a dream.
Just pause for a moment to reflect on the term gone.
- Have you taken steps to help achieve your dream?
- Did these strategies work?
- How can I further develop my faith, learning or relationships to help me achieve my dream?
Thank you to the College staff for their contributions to improve student learning and wellbeing. Your work is much appreciated.
I also thank the many staff and students who have contributed to today’s assembly celebration.
My message today has centred on respect and dreams. These themes are intertwined; it is very rare that one can find purpose, comfort and success in life without the other.
Thus, I conclude with a final reflection to take away in the words of Pope Francis, “May I dream and help all those whom I meet dream, too.”
Thank you for your efforts for the term. I wish you all the best for the holidays.