From the rector & principal of saint ignatius’ college riverview
From the rector & principal of saint ignatius’ college riverview
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Friday 30 November 2018 | Dr Paul Hine
Last Friday, six of our Old Boys had the courage and strength to appear in court to describe the impact, harm and suffering caused by child abuse which occurred while they were at Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview. On the day, they were providing impact statements to the court, detailing in graphic form the sequelae and the consequences of child abuse on their lives. They were stories of great sadness, of loss and suffering, of psycho-social difficulties that have impacted in all areas of their lives, none the least of which is the damage to their mental and psychological health over the intervening decades.
This year, 2018, is the 470th anniversary of the foundation of Jesuit schools. It was back in 1548, in Messina in southern Italy, that the very first Jesuit school was opened. While the Society of Jesus was formed with a mission to spread the Christian faith and to inculcate young men and women with the teachings of the gospel, they had a secular purpose of improving civil society (ad civitatis utilitatem) by educating boys to earn a gainful living and fill leadership positions.
One of the significant assemblies of the year was held on Wednesday to profile the cause of service, a spirit and an impulse that lies at the very heartland of Ignatian spirituality. It is one of the most distinguishing features of the educational program in Jesuit schools. Oscar Davies, Captain of the Regis campus spoke with poise and insight about the efforts made by the boys to raise funds for charities which are in desperate need to support all manner of causes.
Another term arrives, and with it the opportunity for much by way of growth and personal development. As we move into the final stanza for the year, it is time to reflect on the goals that were set all of those months ago, the degree to which they have been achieved, and what that means for what lies ahead. For over 330 young men, they will be completing their first year at the College.
I’m literally just off the aircraft after spending the last few weeks hosting reunions and meetings with members of our community from around the world. While the weather and the culture were radically different in New York, London, Washington DC, or Los Angeles, the thing that I could always count on was the warm spirit of men educated at Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview.
Cura personalis is an intriguing term. It’s part of the Jesuit vernacular, invoking the individualised care for, and response to, the needs of each individual. It is often applied exclusively to students in Jesuit organisations, but it draws upon a much wider constituency when extrapolated to a school such as Riverview. The latter comprises many individuals; in the case of Saint Ignatius’ College, not only the 1,584 students who are part of the enrolment profile, but also the 320 substantive staff, thousands of parents, nearly 10,000 Old Boys as well as countless members of extended families.
This week has been about the transitions of traditions here at the College. We finished last week by putting our mark on the long and storied history of the Jesuit Mission Indian Bazaar. A huge thank you to all of you who helped with the Bazaar, whether by volunteering or attending, you make a huge difference for the people that Jesuit Mission serves. It’s a tradition of service that goes back 67 years. Rides have changed, the food has changed, the wheel of electronics has changed, the wheel of ham… is exactly as it’s always been.
The occupancy of the Therry Building during the week, after 18 months of intensive building works, gave cause to reflect on the humble beginnings of the early years at St Ignatius’ College. On the eve of the College closing for its first decade, Fr Dalton addressed a gathering of the community in the following way:
Each week I have the pleasure of penning some words about the many rich and diverse activities that form the different prisms of school life. The key domains of the College’s Strategic Directions (2015-2020) often provide the inspiration, along with the many different components of the educational program that include spirituality and faith formation, teaching and learning, pastoral care, community and school resources and environment.
In April 1918, the world entered its fourth consecutive year of the most hostile military conflagration in history, one that ultimately destroyed political empires, ravaged long standing social conventions, devastated economic systems and reduced the landscape of Europe to rubble.
Lent, like Term I, is about a journey we take together and this part of the journey is coming to a close this weekend at Easter. Easter wasn’t what Jesus’ closest followers were expecting either. They were thinking about a powerful king who, through the use of military force, would liberate their occupied homeland and start something big. They were only right about the last part.
This past week, the Jesuit community (there are four of us: three live at the College, one lives in Bathurst) went for a weekend of reflection and planning. We’re all busy with our individual works and missions, but it’s important for us to get together once in a while as a group and talk about what is important to us. Where we find life, where we struggle.
In the Religious Education class I teach with Dr. Hine, we start off with ethics and the questions of right behaviour. Fundamentally, we ask the question: “What is the Good, and how do I act in a way that is Good?” One of my moral theology professors used to say that every human action is a moral action. That in every choice we make, we decide what is Good and we act in a way that either grows the Good or diminishes it.
This week we have been sponsoring the annual Advanced Ignatian Teacher Programme at the College, with almost thirty teachers from Jesuit schools across Asia in attendance. We explored with them something of best practice from our Ignatian tradition. Here at the College we have a Companions Programme, running a number of years now, which we shared with our overseas colleagues. The programme aims to partner a teacher with an experienced mentor, a Companion...
Over the past week there has been much activity around the Senior School as the boys who are taking up enrolment in 2018 began the formal process of transition. A mixture of excitement, apprehension and not a little bewilderment at the scale of what will be encountered over the coming years was clearly evident. Parents, a number of who are new and unfamiliar with the routines of school life ‘Riverview style’, experienced their own sense of awe
Two years before Saint Ignatius’ College opened, Roger Vaughan, the Archbishop of Sydney (whose image in marble is in our College Parlour), let it be known that he had invited the Jesuits to Sydney to begin a school. A risky decision. At that time, there was great suspicion of the Jesuits and our work.
There is a small army of unsung heroes around the College who, often out of the sightline, perform their work with enormous commitment and professionalism. That wonderful band of medical staff who operate the Health Care Centre is one such group whose constant ministrations to the boys responds at the deepest levels to the Ignatian principle of cura personalis; that is, responding to the needs of each and every boy as they are made manifest.
The Roman god Janus is regarded as a wisdom figure of transitions and dualities. He is often depicted as having two faces – one which looks to the past and the other to the future. It is a fitting metaphor as we consider this stage of the year: one that has seen End of Semester reports distributed that summarised progress over the first half of the year and what that means for the coming term.
As we conclude the fourth week of term, the impact of the assessment regime is pervasive. Year 11 End of Semester Examinations are at mid-stage with still one week to conclude, and they will be followed in quick succession by Year 9. With little down time, the boys in Year 9 will move from NAPLAN testing to their own examinations, while in other year levels, assignments and research projects are keeping many focussed on their course work and intense revision programs.
Recently I was fortunate to attend an assembly on the Regis campus. The purpose of this particular assembly was to launch some new awards which align with the key values of Jesuit education: competence, conscience, compassion and commitment. In Jesuit parlance, they are referred to as the 4 C’s and they define key characteristics of what underpins the tradition of an educational program in an Ignatian tradition: