Friday 1 March 2019

Not For Ourselves Alone

As the year settles into its embracing rhythms, the importance of the student motto for 2019 comes into view. Not For Ourselves Alone, is derived from Cicero’s influential philosophical work On Duties. It exhorts each member of the community to develop a kinship with each other, and, that all have a duty to contribute to the general good through an interchange of acts of kindness. In the school context, there are many ways in which that can occur. In the early weeks of term, it was seen in the unsolicited response from a senior student to a young boy who needed help finding his way to a classroom or an activity. It has been expressed in the offer to take a newly arrived boarder out for an ice-cream on the weekend, or simply, by the genuine interest through a sincere greeting and statement of welcome. These are small acts of kindness but they mean a very great deal. As the weeks unfold, the application of the motto is abundantly apparent in the many social justice activities that are undertaken – be they preparations for immersions later in the year, coordinating visits to agencies that support the homeless the aged or the disabled, or responding to spontaneous needs in the school or the local community. These are tangible and necessary expressions of a spirituality that has a deep regard for the other, a willingness to go the extra length to ensure that those in need are given due attention, respect and dignity. It is one of the great features of a Jesuit school and one that has found expression in every Jesuit ministry that I have visited over the better part of a decade. I commend Louis Callanan and the Student Leaders for 2019 on their wisdom and their commitment to a cause that resonates at the heartland of the works of the Society. It is timely to draw this to the attention of the community as we move more deeply into the year.

Six years ago, just 15 kilometres west of Dili – the capital city of East Timor, a new Jesuit School was opened to respond to the paucity of educational opportunities for one of the poorest countries in South East Asia. The genesis of Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiola, emanated from Australia, with the funds for the building and development of the school being raised by four of the established Jesuit schools in the Australian Province. Since then, Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview as one of those four schools, has contributed over $500,000 to underwrite the costs of construction and servicing the provision for the educational program. It was an audacious dream but one that has come to fruition, thanks to the generosity of so many. Last year the first graduates – 104 Year 12 students, achieved 100% pass rate in the National Exams and 9 of the top 10 students in country came from Loyola. Currently, Loyola has over 700 students enrolled who will, in the metaphor of tomorrow, become the doctors and the engineers, the financiers and teachers: in effect the leaders of a new East Timor that will progressively shed the impoverishment, the violence and the subjugation of the past. The school and the nation sit on the threshold of enormous change with aspirations and possibilities that were heretofore inconceivable. Not for ourselves has a resonance that is being felt widely across South East Asia, and it is with pride that we bring this project to the attention of the school community who have so generously supported it over recent years.

Over the last 12 months, Leanne Neal, Director of the Health Care Centre, has undertaken her own Ignatian project by rearing a puppy, Yarna, to go into service either as a guide dog, a therapy dog, or one of the many areas of need that support those with disabilities. Yarna has been a wonderful addition to the Health Care Centre where each day many boys not only pat and befriend this gentle and lovable dog, but share some of their deepest difficulties and anxieties. Yarna’s progress in training has been commendable, coming first in her class for obedience and as of last week, qualifying for full guide dog training over the months ahead. And, despite the fact that she is only one year old, she has become a mentor for another tiny puppy, who over the coming months will be the beneficiary of her tutelage. There is something deeply symbolic about Yarna and the way that she is emblematic of the College’s vision. She has worked hard in her own very unassuming and humble way and achieved success, she has enamoured herself to the community through service to others, and she is a mentor for the next generation of puppies who will take on service roles that are so desperately needed. Yarna is an exemplar of the Ignatian spirit and will continue to make an appreciable difference to the quality of life for those who will benefit from her very special gifts and qualities.

Could I please ask parents to make a very special effort to respond to the speed zones that apply when driving inside the College grounds. With nearly 1,600 boys that move expansively across the school, the need for community vigilance in relation to safety is essential. Like many, I have been on site from as early as 5.30am joining the stream of traffic entering the western gate in preparation for rowing, and last Friday night demonstrated the volume of night time traffic with a convoy of buses and cars leaving the grounds as late as 9.30pm in the aftermath of GPS Swimming. Could all be acutely mindful of the maximum 20km limit at all times, and 5km only limit in specific areas to ensure the safety of the boys and the many visitors who come to participate in a wide raft of school activities.

Dr Paul Hine