Friday 26 October 2018

Not For Ourselves Alone

At the School Assembly this morning, College Captain Louis Callahan announced the student motto for 2019 – ‘not for ourselves alone’. The origin of this phrase dates back to Cicero’s most influential philosophical work – On Duties. In full, Cicero wrote, ‘non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici’ (‘not for us alone are we born; our country, our friends, have a share in us’). This is fully in accord with Ignatian spirituality, the phrase being the object of much scholarship by one of the foremost Jesuit scholars, John W Malley SJ. On a practical level, and perhaps in the more recent vernacular of Pedro Arrupe SJ, it is being a ‘man for and with others’. This finds expression in many forms, both inside and outside of the school community. On a daily basis, it is the genuine concern that students have for each other – the way that they embrace the breadth of the educational program and are responsive to the well-being of each other. It is particularly seen in the efforts that are made to support those who suffer adversity and hardship, those who find themselves on the outer. It is expressed through service to those most in need; to the disabled, the disenfranchised, the elderly, the homeless, the lost and the lonely. This is the distinguishing hallmark of Jesuit education, for it asks young men to go beyond the immediacy of the self to be mindful of, and responsive to others. Put so succinctly be Cicero all those years ago, we are asked to ‘contribute to the general good by an interchange of acts of kindness, and by giving and receiving’. As we move into the year ahead, may this motto guide the affairs of the school and may it be lived out in the daily expression of the sentiments and activities of College life.

Last weekend the College community were deeply distressed to hear of the injury to one of our Year 10 boys during a rugby selection game for NSW Rugby 7s. Alex Noble, a highly respected and integrated member of his year level, was admitted to the Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) with significant damage to his vertebrae and spinal cord. The full extent of Alex’s injuries will not be known for some months but in the intervening period he will be spending time in the spinal unit at RNSH, which is one of the most highly regarding spinal units in Australia. There will be a prayer service conducted at the College at 5.00pm on Wednesday in the Rose Garden, for those who wish to join the family in prayer and reflection. An extended statement from the family is included under the Community section of the Viewpoint, with further details about how we can support Alex and his family at this time. Alex is a fine young man – courageous, determined and full of resolve so we stand in solidarity with him and the Noble family during their hour of need.

Another of the many significant events during the week was the Orientation Day for Year 7 boys who join the College in 2019. In the spirit of Louis’ motto, senior students were extensively involved in the induction process, enabling the boys to experience the hospitality and the warm sense of welcome that is part of joining a Jesuit community. Among the newest arrivals was a special group of young men: the First Nations boys and their families. The latter have embarked on a four day transition program where the boys spend their nights in boarding, and then shadow various events in classes and Houses in the day school. In years to come, these experiences will remain vivid for both the boys and their families, as they reflect on their orientation and induction to the College as they progressively move towards their graduation in 2024. What a gift these young men are for our community, and what hopes we have for them as leaders of their communities over the years ahead.

As we move into the busyness of Term 4, there is much underway – some of which begins to cap off goals and targets that have been identified for 2018, others of which are being formalised as key priorities for the coming year. Not least among the pressing preoccupations of the present is the HSC Examinations, which are in full swing. The boys in Year 11 have moved into their Year 12 courses of study and in just a fortnight the young men in Year 9 move undertake the demands and rewards associated with The Challenge. In the case of 2019, there is an inordinate amount of work underway, from timetable construction and staffing through to preparation for immersions and nomination for sporting teams and activities over the coming 12 months. In a large and complex organisation such as Saint Ignatius’ College, these cannot be left to chance and early preparations are vital in realising ambitions and goals that will position the College to retain its place as one of the most highly regarded providers of Jesuit education in the  nation.

There is much to be grateful for, and much that lies ahead.


Dr Paul Hine