Friday 11 August 2017

Provenance

The history of Riverview could be wrongly construed to have begun when Fr Dalton and his small band of intrepid Jesuits took a boat from Ireland bound for the antipodes to set up the Jesuit enterprise on the north shore of Sydney. As important as this was, there is a much more ancient story, one that speaks to the Cameraygal people who preceded the founding fathers by the better part of 50,000 years. Evidence of this remains with us today on the foreshore of the property where Aboriginal middens tell the story of times past, of lost communities who lived and foraged around the Lane Cove River before the arrival of Europeans who subdued the local flora and fauna. Middens are mounds of soil or strata filled with discarded shells that were used for decoration, baking and sometimes crushed to make quicklime. At our most ancient site (which is not open to the general public), the middens begin at sea level and continue for metres up to sheltering caves that were used by the Cameraygal people for millennia. In the case of the latter, these are being restored to ensure that the provenance of the past is being preserved, in the same way that the more visible heritage of The Arrupe and other sites of more recent significance are nurtured and protected for the future. The College has a binding responsibility to steward the past so that generations to come will know and appreciate the richness of the Cameraygal story.

While the provenance of a spirituality attributable to St Ignatius is a more recent development, it has informed the development of the Jesuit enterprise for the better part of 500 years. Ignatius of Loyola, along with his faithful companions, grew a different form of Catholicism during times of great turmoil in 16th Century Europe. A feature of their ‘brand’ was the need to be constructively critical of the world and to be agents of change in the quest for social justice. Tapping into the well-springs of the gospel stories, taking the model of Jesus as both the voice of salvation and an incessant medium of provocation, Ignatius gave shape to the works of the Society which spans the globe and makes itself manifest in all fields of life. It is that tradition that we appropriate and nurture at the College, not just in Religious Education classes or on retreats, but throughout the breadth and the depth of the educational program, not excluding the co-curricular arena. The latter was the object of specific attention in the aftermath of a fine win of the 1st XV Rugby against the Shore School on Saturday. Long may it continue to be nurtured.

On Wednesday, the distinguished provenance of student leadership at the College saw another page of its illustrious history written with the Investiture of School Leaders ceremony. The tradition of College leaders, which first came into being in 1912, was re-enacted when the graduates elect of 2018 accepted their badges of office in front of a packed assembly in the Ramsay Hall. These are moments that transcend time and space: they speak to a formality that is firmly etched into Riverview’s DNA. Each of the Leaders Elect has completed the Leadership Program through the Arrupe Academy and each has been formed for these roles over many years. That they now choose to accept the service that is synonymous with leadership, the arduous and sometimes lonely place that principled leadership requires, and, to do so in context of a spirituality that at times requires a certain heroism (Heroic Leadership: Lowney, C. 2005), is a measure of the impact of the boys’ formation over the years. Special congratulations are extended to the Student Executive: Matt Dutaillis as College Captain, Mitchell Hope: Vice-Captain (Day Boys) and Philip Law (Boarders), who undertake the significant task of leading the student body in their graduation year. Congratulations are extended also to the House Captains and Vice-Captains, Proctors, Beadles and Prefects who undertake their own commitment to lead by example, with integrity, conscience and courage as they progressively take over the baton in the coming months. We can be proud of these men, as we can of Jesse Gray and his team, who have written their own chapter of probity and honour into the annals of the Riverview story.

Another of the great traditions that is etched in the foundational years of the College is the Joeys weekend: when the schools come together in a spirit of competition and goodwill to test those many elements of the sporting program: team work, fitness, skill development and the camaraderie that manifests itself in experiences that are shared and richly valued. The 1st XV Rugby is a highlight, but other teams and codes hold their own attractions and rewards on a day that will see so much of the past played out in the present. As the fixtures on Saturday will be the final ones for the winter season, many of the graduates who have been pulling on the blue and white for the better part of six or eight years, will have their final hurrah. A mixture of both elation and nostalgic loss is likely to be felt from those who have given so much over such a lengthy period of time. May all appreciate the fun, the competition, the wins and the losses that will be part of a weekend in which whole communities come together to join in the games and to relive the highs and lows of the season.

For all of these graces – the Aboriginal history, the Ignatian story, Student Leaders who respond to the call to serve and to a robust program of sport and competition that produces such appreciable gains, we give gratitude and thanks to a benevolent God who informs and guides the mission of the College.

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Dr Paul Hine