Thursday 29 March 2018

The Importance of Peace

During Easter week last year, Pope Francis appealed for a period of prayer and solidarity in support of global peace. This same sentiment was echoed during the week by Nicholas Kristof, a senior correspondent for the New York Times, whose sobering insight into the violence of war torn countries in Africa made compelling reading. The Central African Republic (CAR) is regarded as ‘the world’s most neglected crisis’; a place where 14 militias run a country that has displaced over a quarter of the population. Torn apart by civil war and ethnic cleansing for 14 years, this is a country where children die routinely because of chaos and dysfunction. Conditions are so unstable that the government operates few medical clinics so women die in childbirth at one of the highest rates in the world. Even those who are non-aligned, such as humanitarian workers bringing much needed aid to support education and health care, were killed in their numbers in CAR in 2017, making it one the most perilous and dangerous countries on earth. And, other regions such as South Sudan, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo share the same endemic problems. While the global war on poverty has yielded great success with more than 100 million children’s lives being saved since 1990, the prevalence of violence continues to produce a human cost of inestimable proportions. We live in a broken world, one that is fractured by the greed and power of individuals who seek personal gain above the common good. As we move towards the death and resurrection of Christ, let us be reminded of the season of Lent and the imperative of Matthew’s gospel in our own communities: whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me. May it be a spirit of generosity and goodwill that prevails at Easter as we move through the events of the passion and embrace a theology of hope and new life.

Confronting images of the war torn Central African Republic (from the New York Times)

Over recent weeks, the College calendar has been exponentially busy, not only delivering an intensive assessment program with the Year 12 Examinations, but balancing a multiplicity of events and priorities. Among many is the intensive building program on Therry, which is reaching the latter stages of the project after 18 months. Those who enter the property from Gate 2 and drive along the perimeter of Gorman Field will notice the encasement of the Western node and the completion of all of the inner walls. Fittings and joinery are now being installed with carpets to follow over the coming weeks. Some major work is still required on the North East node as the manufacturing for the seraphic glass to enclose the building begins. Progress is now a daily event and with just 12 teaching days remaining in the term, it is a time of frenetic activity.

To complete the summer sporting program, the GPS Swimming Final was held on Friday night at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (SOPAC), and as in the case for so many of the sports across the summer, the boys did themselves and their College proud. Overall, Saint Ignatius’ was ranked 2nd in the Intermediate Division and 3rd in the Senior Division – a very fine result given the quality of competition. As expected, the action in the pool was complemented by the enthusiastic support of the boys in the stands, who generated the spirit that Riverview is renowned for. Congratulations are extended to the Captain of the Swimming Team, Joseph Walsh, and to all of the boys who represented us on the night.

After many weeks of rehearsal, two Year 8 plays that focussed on libraries and books, Quiet Please and The Enchanted Bookshop, came to life in the O’Kelly Theatre earlier in the week. In Quiet Please, many of the elements of school life – assignments, study skills, elongated lessons, detention and the odd surreptitious engagement with football scores, brought many of the daily realities of the day into the spotlight of the theatre. The second play saw a bookshop become embroiled in the literary reality of Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes, who among other characters were caught in the middle of a jewel smuggling ring. It was clear from the outset that the boys’ energy and creativity was a source of delight for themselves and their audience, and it was also encouraging to see girls from Loreto and Brigidine College join the boys in such an accomplished fashion on stage. Many thanks are extended to the Directors, Mr Dale Clarke and Ms Alice Ossowski, who worked with the cast and crew on such entertaining scripts.

Early in the week, the Old Ignatians’ Union (OIU) held their Breakfast Gathering for Term 1. Five decades of Old Boys came together in their numbers to hear presentations from the Rector and the Principal: the former who spoke about the future being faced by the Society of Jesus with attenuating numbers of Jesuits, and the latter about the current and future trends in a changing educational landscape. It was a valuable opportunity to reflect and project, to engage in discourse with the Old Boys, some of whom are recent and some very distant, about matters of such importance. The OIU hosts four breakfast meetings each year and they are a cherished way of nurturing the community who have given so much to the College over the years. Special thanks are extended to the President of the OIU, Charlie Pidcock, whose son Henry will join this illustrious group of men upon graduation later this year.

At the Old Ignatians’ Union Breakfast Forum

Very best wishes for a safe and restful Easter.

Dr Paul Hine