June 1st signalled the first day of winter, after what has been an unprecedented period of the most stunning autumn weather in Sydney. As if on script, the rain arrived and brought with it some blustery but refreshing weather that has greened the landscape of the school and feathered the lawns to soften the pitches for the winter codes. In keeping with Ignatian spirituality it is easy to ‘find God in all things’, in the sheer beauty of the natural world, in the inherent goodness of our young men, in the richness of the school community and an educational system which is aspirational and forward moving.
Mid Term 2 is a frenetic time between the many activities that revolve around a busy examination and assessment schedule. The senior secondary years have completed their End of Semester Examinations and report writing is occupying many hours behind the scenes. Year 10 concluded their examinations on Friday and Year 9 move ahead with theirs from next Monday. The boys have been preparing for some time so results should be in due proportion to the systematic efforts that have been made along the way. And in the case of the boys in Year 10, they will be confronting an important term as they begin to discern which subjects they wish to pursue across their HSC over the coming years so there is much to consider over the coming weeks and months.
One of the very special liturgies of the year was held on Wednesday to celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart, which also was attended by members of the Cana community. Cana is a community for the otherwise homeless in Sydney. The residents not only graced us with their presence at mass but spoke courageously to the boys about their adverse life experiences. The insights they shared will remain as a stirring memory of the term. The story of Ryan – a former prisoner who has rehabilitated from drug addiction, moved all to compassion, some to tears. In its own symbolic way, Ryan’s story is a living example of the desolation and consolation synonymous with Ignatian spirituality; something that through resilience and help from Cana, he has come through and now looks forward to reuniting with his son and embracing family life.
The second Parent Colloquium entitled Developing Resilient Adolescents was held in the Ramsay Hall on Wednesday evening and it was well attended, both in a physical sense by parents who travelled across town to hear the insights presented on the evening, as well as a similar number from all over Australia and throughout the world who formed part of the virtual audience through live-streaming technologies. And, the Twitter feed added a new dimension for parents who formed part of the virtual audience, be they in rural New South Wales, across the states and territories of Australia or in the 11 different countries where families live across the globe. Just one of the many revelations of the forum is that resilience in adolescence is given agency by resilient parenting, so this particular colloquium has given food for thought across the generational spectrum.
While a cohort of boys in Year 11 are preparing for leadership through the Arrupe Academy, a number are also preparing for immersions to various parts of South East Asia later in the year. These programs challenge the boys to see the world uncut – not from the laundered edifice of the north shore, but from the reality of the hardship that affects daily life in some of the poorest regions of the world. And why do they do it? Essentially, to be formed and shaped by experience – experience that gives rise to reflection from where meaning surfaces. And sometimes that meaning is not immediate but cultivated and processed over time. That is education, in the broadest and richest sense of the word. And, it is Jesuit to the core. We commend those who challenge themselves to step out of a zone of familiarity and comfort to experience the growth that will occur as a result of their immersion in the socio-cultural reality of families, some of who all but subsist, in our neighbouring Asian countries.
Amid many community events over recent weeks, the Nostalgia Mass and Luncheon held in the Ramsay Hall last Thursday provided cogent evidence of the long-term effect of the educational program at the College. Old Boys and their partners from decades past descended on the College to relive some of their golden memories, to celebrate their friendship and support one another across the years. Our most senior statesman, Russell Fahey, graduated from Riverview in 1939 – a mere 77 years ago, and he was closely followed by Geoff Gray (OR 41) and John Mallon (OR 43). Rob Meagher (OR 59) delivered the Occasional Address, recalling (perhaps embellishing??) certain events of his time at the College that were cause for great mirth among the assembled. And, at each of the decade tables, boys from Year 10 joined to converse about their current experience at the College – in many ways so different and in many ways so similar. It was wonderful to see the juxtaposition of the past with the present and see the vitality and richness of that exchange. Let us just say that it happened ‘Riverview style’.
Other events take place at this busy time of year, some that are very visible such as the ongoing cycle of House masses, through to the celebration of the boarders’ 18th birthdays in the home of Neil and Melissa Mushan. They are tangible signs of the Ignatian belief that God is in all things – in the transition of the seasons, in the resilience of the homeless, in the endeavours of the boys and in the incandescence of the generations who reach across the years. May it be a time to appreciate those many moments among the busyness of the grounds and classrooms of this extraordinary school.
Dr Paul Hine
Riverview’s First War
Bennett Walsh reads the poem, “Song of the Federation” by ‘Banjo’ Paterson
Last Sunday morning, College Captain Bennett Walsh and I represented Riverview at the ‘Boer War Commemoration’ service held at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park. The service marked the 114th anniversary of the treaty of Vereeniging, signed on 31 May 1902 in Pretoria South Africa, by Lord Kitchener of the British Empire and representatives of the Republic of South Africa and of the Boer states. This treaty ended hostilities that had begun in 1899.
Bennett read ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s poem and we laid a wreath on behalf of the College. We were made especially welcome by the Boer War descendants and the distinguished guests who were all well aware of Riverview’s contribution and connections to the war as such a relatively young school at the time.
The Boer (South African) War was the first conflict in which Australian forces were involved as a nation. 23,000 Australians (including some indigenous men) enlisted. 1,000 died. Going to war was thought to be patriotic and character building. Even though Riverview had been opened in 1880, just nineteen years later, eighteen old boys of the College went off to South Africa to fight for the Empire. Two did not return, stricken by enteric fever and now buried in South African soil.
One of those who set off for adventure in early 1900 was Godfrey Clement Austin, aged 18. He had arrived at Riverview on 26 February 1891, two days after his tenth birthday. His family, originally from Leeds in the North of England, was extraordinarily well-connected. Godfrey’s uncle was Alfred Austin, the Poet Laureate who succeeded Lord Tennyson to that position in 1896, and his father, Henry, who arrived in Sydney in 1858, was one of the wool pioneers of the Colony of NSW, founder of the Wool Buyers’ Association. He was a Fellow of St John’s College, Honorary Treasurer of St Vincent’s Hospital and a committeeman on the AJC (from which he resigned in protest when horse racing took place on Holy Saturday). Both Alfred and Henry had been educated at the Jesuit College, Stonyhurst, in England and it seemed natural that Henry would send his two sons, Godfrey and Kenneth (who was at Riverview from 1894 to 1897) to Riverview.
Godfrey’s time at the College was largely undistinguished. He did, as the youngest boy in the school at the time, present bouquets to the Countess of Jersey and her daughter, Margaret, when they attended the school’s performance of ‘Julius Caesar’ in December 1891 together with Lord Jersey, the Governor of NSW. But Godfrey’s mother’s death, aged only 54, in April 1894, affected the young boy keenly. He left Riverview abruptly on 24 October 1896, “discontented”.
Godfrey’s mother’s family were also staunch Catholics. Her father, Robert Coveny, from Ireland, arrived in Sydney in 1835 and set up the ‘New Holland Grocery Warehouse’ while also devoting himself to Church activities, including the establishment of St Vincent’s Hospital in 1857. Although his sons were Australian born, he sent them to Stonyhurst and to the seminary of St Mary’s Oscott, near Birmingham (where some members of the Austin family also studied). The eldest son, also Robert, was killed in action in 1885 during the Sudan War, the first Australian-born officer in the British Army to die on the battlefield.
But Godfrey wanted adventures of his own after school and just after the outbreak of the Boer War, he travelled to South Africa and enlisted in a South African unit, the Kaffrarian Mounted Rifles. He was an expert rifle shot and he won first prize in regimental rifle matches. The Kaffrarians saw much action and Godfrey, eventually promoted to Lieutenant, served with distinction.
From the end of the war in 1902 to his death in 1913, however, Godfrey seemed to drift. He was unmarried and only 32 years old when he died.
Godfrey Austin is one of eighteen Riverview old boys who went off to South Africa to fight in the largely forgotten Boer War over 116 years ago. He was remembered when Bennett Walsh, who will finish at Riverview 120 years after Godfrey did in 1896, laid the wreath at Hyde Park last Sunday.
JAMES RODGERS, ALUMNI AMBASSADOR
Red Shield Appeal – Sunday 29th May
On Sunday 29th of May, 120 students from Year 7 and 8 volunteered to assist with the Salvation Army Red Shield Door Knock Appeal.
As Year 8 students had just finished a study of People living without a home in their Religious Education Garate project, taking part in the 2016 Red Shield Door Knock Appeal was a particularly meaningful way to take action to assist people living without a home.
Groups of students set out across the streets of Riverview greeting residents with a warm smile and handshake.
The total funds raised were $5161.20.
A very big thank you to Mr Reilly and James from the Salvation Army for assisting to lead this initiative on Sunday morning
KATHERINE ZEROUNIAN, FAITH IN SERVICE CO-ORDINATOR
AROUND THE COLLEGE
School Holiday Code Camp
Learn to code this coming holidays at Riverview.
Code camp are running a 3 day course where you build your own iPhone app.
Learn to code, have fun, be creative, and enjoy using problem solving to build your own app.
If you need more information talk to Miss Lord up in the library or Mrs Anderson in Science
or go to the code camp website.
EMMA LORD, DIGITAL LEARNING FACILITATOR | TEACHER – TAS
FROM THE P&F
Term 2, Week 6
Months of planning by the very talented RioView committee, led by Penny Whiteing, saw our major gala night become the hottest ticket in town. Their promise of a fantastic night, filled with surprises, was fulfilled and more. It was a night to remember, one which demonstrated in full stride what a connected community we are. Aside from enjoying drinks with fabulous Brazilian dancers, enjoying a delicious meal, bidding away on silent auction items and dancing the night away, we also had a meaningful presentation from some very inspiring and insightful bursary boys. Our aim was to “build a bursary together” and that we did and so much more. We are in awe of the generosity of our parent body. Many donated their time and talents to set the scene for the night, many donated wonderful items, experiences and homes for our silent auction and raffle, 574 of you bought tickets to attend the evening and then as many bid on items and pledged towards the bursary. It was indeed an evening which clearly identified the Riverview parent body as generous, connected and extremely social!
I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my personal thanks to Penny Whiteing. She “willingly” agreed to take charge of this major event and I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many hours and emails she dedicated to this event. I’m certain everyone will agree that the attention to detail was superb. Our parent body is blessed with many talented and generous individuals, none more so than Penny.
We are still reconciling our accounts from the evening, however we are thrilled with our initial estimate of around $150,000. Once all accounts have been settled, we’ll report our exact figures. If you still have your pledge card or would still like to donate, it’s not too late! You can still jump online and donate now.
Once again, our sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the evening. Here’s a picture of “some” of the ladies who made it all happen:
Upcoming event for Term 2
- City/Country mothers luncheon on Friday 17 June at Roseville Golf Club
As I advised last week, our “city” allocation of tickets for this very special luncheon was snapped up very quickly. There is currently a waitlist for city mums. Click here to go on the waitlist.
We are so blessed to be building a strong connected community and thank you all for your enormous support in our endeavours to bring our parent community together.
Have a great week and best of luck to all the boys playing their respective sports this weekend. Being on the sidelines on a Saturday is the highlight of my week.
CHERYL LEOTTA, P&F PRESIDENT