College Principal Mark Ashmore Mother’s Day Breakfast Speech

Good morning Salesians, our mother’s, students and staff. A warm welcome to our Mother’s Day breakfast. It is wonderful that so many have been able to attend our event this morning.

Acknowledgement to Country

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.

Mother’s Day Spiritual Dimension

Mother’s Day has a deep spiritual dimension. Motherhood has always been a sacred and noble vocation, but Mary raised it to even greater stature when she became the Mother of God. As the mother who is “blessed among women” (Lk 1:42), Mary gives us an inspiring picture of motherhood.

Mary was “full of grace”, God lived within her. Mary’s mother, St Ann taught her young daughter to be loving and kind, attentive to God’s Word, and obedient to God’s will. When the archangel Gabriel appeared to her and said, “You will bear a son,” with deep faith she trustingly replied, “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:31,38). Every Christian mother loves God with all her heart and responds favourably whenever God calls.

Once Mary became pregnant, she immediately went to visit Elizabeth, her relative, who also was pregnant (Lk 1:39-45). Christian mothers do not focus solely on themselves and their own families. Instead, they have the ability to assist relatives and friends who are in need.

On the first Christmas Mary gave birth to her Son, she immediately wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes (Lk 2:7), thereby caring for his physical needs. Mothers care for their child’s physical needs as they feed them, clothe them, change their nappies, take them to doctor’s appointments, and nurse them through illness.

Next, evil King Herod tried to kill Jesus, so Mary fled to Egypt to protect her son (Mt 2:13-15). Christian mothers keep their children away from evil forces that could harm them: violent or abusive adults, undisciplined playmates, and bad television programs or social media, to name a few.

Mary and Joseph took their son Jesus to the synagogue in Nazareth each week in observance of the Sabbath (Lk 4:16), and they took him to the Temple in Jerusalem once a year for Passover (Lk 2:41). Mary understood the importance of prayer and to be connected to other faith-filled families.

The gospel says that Jesus was obedient to Mary (Lk 2:51), which implies that Mary was firm and demanding with her Son. Christian mothers do not let their children do whatever they want, but have high standards for Christian conduct, have a set of house rules, and insist upon them.

When Jesus was crucified, Mary stood at the foot of the Cross and suffered with him (Jn 19:25). She never abandoned him, even during adulthood, particularly when things were at their worst. Unconditional love.

Margerita Occhiena

John Bosco had wonderful support and guidance from his own mother Margerita “Margaret” Occhiena. She saw to the religious upbringing of John, taught him the catechism, took him to church, and prepared him for the sacraments. God was foremost in her thoughts. Margarita sought to give John moral character and inner spiritual resources and engagement with life. She trained him to trust in God’s love, to be honest and demonstrate integrity, love of hard work and faithfulness, and to express service to others. The values of how she lived and her special devotion to Mary was passed to the children.

Our Lady Help of Christians

Don Bosco, educator, innovator and priest, immersed himself under the under the protection and help of Mary Help of Christians, to whom he turned for every need, especially when matters were dragging on, becoming complicated, entangled. Bosco affirms the role Mary has in his life, referencing that, “It is She who has done everything!” He even managed to erect the basilica of Mary Help of Christians at Valdocco – Turin in just three years, in 1868; under Her maternal protection, he placed all his work, by now spread throughout the world.

Personal Reflection

I have been fortunate to have spent time recently with my mother who lives interstate. After 39 years working in a school we were able to celebrate her retirement.  Hard working, committed, honesty and integrity are some word to describe my dear mum. I am fortunate that my mum is a wonderful role model and guide – always demonstrating love, support and compassion towards myself and my sister. Like Occhiena towards Bosco, my own experience has been positive – to have her as a role model, and hero, my mum is highly valued for integrity, love of work and a engrained sense of serving others in the community.

I too witness the unconditional and deep commitment by my wife to our young daughter in her role as a mother. As a values and faith driven person, the mother of my child is a beautiful person who demonstrates love, empathy, patience and support. I am astounded at times how quickly she can calm a rampaging and head strong three-year old.

I am very much looking forward seven weeks as we embark on the birth of our second child; obviously to welcome the newborn but also to see my wife in the early days of rearing an infant.


Our mums play an integral role in our lives as they care for us with unconditional love.

Boys, I hope that take time every day to thank your mum and to give her a hug and kiss. Show gratitude for the ongoing love and support provided to you. I am confident you have been nurtured, cared and supported by your mother as the way you each conduct yourselves is exemplary. To our mothers, thank you for raising good men.

I extend a special invitation to our Year 7 mothers to attend the Mother-Son Evening next Wednesday evening. Facilitated by Bill Jennings, it is an event you do not want to miss as it is a special rite-of-passage for you and your son that will strengthen the relationship as he begins adolescence.

I express my gratitude to the many people in our Salesian community who have contributed to our celebration this morning; Event Coordinator Ms Gina Nenos, Ms Suzie McErvale and her marketing and development team, Trudy Skarajew, Michelle Collins, Jonathon Stevens, Assistant Principal – Mission and Staff Culture Ms Nadia Knight, our College student leaders and tour ambassadors, College Rector Fr Oreste, Leadership Team, Faith and Mission Team, Facilities, IT, and Administration teams.

Thank you.

To our mothers, thank you and enjoy the upcoming Mother’s Day with your family.

I finish today with a prayer to Mary Help of Christians.


In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Mary, our Mother,
You responded to the call of God with faith and courage.
Help us to express our faith with honesty
Help us to remain faithful in difficult times
Help us to discover meaning and purpose in the events of our lives
Help us to find healing in times of hurt
Help us to be gentle, reasonable and loving in all our relationships
Help us to be compassionate in the face of indifference
Help us to bring joy and hope into our lives and the lives of others
Help us to live lives of practical love.

St John Bosco

Pray for Us

Enjoy the breakfast and the opportunity to share in the morning together