You will have received from the College today an announcement of the appointment of Fr Tom Renshaw SJ as Rector of Saint Ignatius College Riverview from the beginning of 2021. I congratulate Fr Tom on his appointment; I believe he is a wonderful choice and we are blessed. The announcement letter gives some details of Fr Tom’s CV, but I will just comment on some of the aspects relevant to Riverview. I was with Fr Tom at Xavier from 2008 to 2010. He is an experienced teacher, teaching Legal Studies, Commerce and Religious Education; much appreciated by his students. He was Rector of Xavier College from 2010 to 2014. Hence, he brings great experience and knowledge to Riverview.
Fr Tom has had a long relationship with Riverview. Generations of his family have been at Riverview, and Fr Tom himself was at Riverview in the 1980s and 90s.
The role of the Rector is sometimes not clear to all. The Rector in Jesuit schools – and in fact in other ministries – is the senior Jesuit in the college. The Rector has responsibility for maintaining the Jesuit values and ethos, spirituality and catholicity of the College; in this he collaborates closely with the Principal. He maintains, in conjunction with the College Board, the relationship of the College with the Jesuit Order and the Provincial.
I know Fr Tom will be a great contributor to Riverview, and I wish him every blessing in his new role. This appointment, of course, will terminate my role in 2020 as acting Rector. I have been happy to be able to bridge the gap so that Fr Tom is available now as Rector. As for all associated with Riverview, it has been a strange year for me with coronavirus restrictions. One of my disappointments has been how few parents, families and old boys I have been able to meet and interact with.
Next week we have two significant feast days – All Saints’ Day (All Hallows) on Sunday and All Souls’ Day on Monday. Some see All Saints’ Day as celebrating the canonised saints. Many, including me, like to think of All Saints’ Day as celebrating those people of great virtue and service who have not had the recognition of sainthood by acclamation or canonisation. Each of us know people who have made a huge contribution to the service of others, including to us, for whom this day is a time to celebrate and remember. I like to recall that All Saints ‘Day is one of the few Christian feasts that is still celebrated by the secular community(!!) as All Hallows Eve or Halloween, on Saturday. I suspect many taking part in Halloween activities don’t realise they are celebrating the vigil of a major Christian feast – a day when traditionally we scared away the devils in preparation for All Hallows. All Souls’ Day is the day we remember those who have died; those who have gone before us. Let us recall and pray about two groups. Firstly, those who have been close to us, loved us, and been important to us who have died; and secondly, those who have suffered the loss of loved ones over the past year.
During the week we had the commissioning of student Eucharistic ministers, who distribute communion at our student Masses. They volunteer for this role, and undergo formation and training, and are then commissioned. The Mass, the Eucharist, communion is central to our faith. Jesus spent about 33 years on Earth, three of them in his public life or ministry. He came to bring a message that the world could be a better place if we lived by his message of love and the service of others. He entrusted his disciples and followers – us – to bring that message to our world; initially his apostles. But He must have had doubts about them and felt that when He was gone they would falter. He wanted to be still with them and support them in some way. So He instituted the Eucharist. Christians come together for mutual support as communities, and through the Eucharist, Jesus is in a special and real way with us. We have missed out on Mass and communion much this year with coronavirus restrictions; hopefully in the near future we will be able to gather as eucharistic communities again, and our eucharistic ministers will be able to take their rightful roles in these gatherings. I thank those who have taken this role on.
Blessings, and happy All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.