Friday 19 October 2018

Reaching Out

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. They have felt at close range the aspirational culture of Saint Ignatius’ College, and the encouragement to work hard to realise personal ambitions and potential, as well as the need to contribute in myriad ways to the formation of others. The latter is a Jesuit impulse – something that resides at the heartland of what it is to go beyond the immediacy of the self and to look for how others may benefit through responding to the bigger lens of the school and the broader community.

Over the break a number of boys found their way to different parts of the world to participate, in one form or another, in the broader Jesuit story. Ten boys in Year 10 joined a visitation program to schools in the United States, to Fordham Prep in New York and to Boston College in Massachusetts. They found it instructive to hear the use of a vernacular that transcends time and place: the four ‘C’s that are part of the daily lexicon in College life, and that phrase that defines Jesuit endeavour – ‘a man for others’. Despite geography and very different cultural settings, the boys were exposed to the international movement of the Jesuits and a language that has traversed the globe. Five young men found their way to Clongowes Wood in Ireland: a Jesuit school that is a 40 minute drive out of Dublin, where they will spend the next five weeks living and studying in the Irish national system, but, under the aegis of the Jesuits who established the school back in 1814. This was half a centurybefore Riverview was conceived, yet the same imperatives underpin the educational program, be it in the United States, Ireland or the 45 countries the Jesuits have founded schools and universities in. And, these young men will come back very much richer for the experience.

Fr Jack catching up with some Old Boys in New York, including a graduate from 1944! | Dr Hine sharing a drink with gap students (new Old Boys) in Dublin

For the last three weeks, Fr Jack and I have been on the move visiting the schools and alumni in different parts of the world. Like the boys, we spent time in Ireland, England and the US, not only touching base with the schools but also Riverview alumni, some of whom have lived off shore for many decades. A number of Old Boys have entered the commercial and business world, as will many of the current graduates in years to come. A not insignificant number have become benefactors to the bursary and capital gifts programs, and it was important for us to strengthen the existing relationship and to express gratitude to the many who provide opportunities for the boys and their families in the current context. This is part of the greater Jesuit story that just happens, with frequency and very often with disarming humility. And, it was also a chance to see the works of the Society in its many different expressions, be that in ministries of education, social justice and/or formation programs. Whether it be in Dublin in Ireland or Jesuit training colleges and novitiates in Los Angeles, there is a common language to which all subscribe and we return to Australia richer for the experience.

For the last three weeks, Fr Jack and I have been on the move visiting the schools and alumni in different parts of the world. Like the boys, we spent time in Ireland, England and the US, not only touching base with the schools but also Riverview alumni, some of whom have lived off shore for many decades. A number of Old Boys have entered the commercial and business world, as will many of the current graduates in years to come. A not insignificant number have become benefactors to the bursary and capital gifts programs, and it was important for us to strengthen the existing relationship and to express gratitude to the many who provide opportunities for the boys and their families in the current context. This is part of the greater Jesuit story that just happens, with frequency and very often with disarming humility. And, it was also a chance to see the works of the Society in its many different expressions, be that in ministries of education, social justice and/or formation programs. Whether it be in Dublin in Ireland or Jesuit training colleges and novitiates in Los Angeles, there is a common language to which all subscribe and we return to Australia richer for the experience.

Around the precincts of the College the atmosphere is very much one of focussed study. There is a nervous tension in the air each day as the Year 12 boys move across to the Ramsay Hall for their HSC Examinations. Over a decade in the making and 12 months in the formal preparation, the boys in the graduating class confront these significant assessments on a daily basis. Thus far, the feedback has been positive but the demands of these examinations are very real and the young men who confront them realise the competitive environment in which they are immersed. The next three weeks will hold a strange mixture of nerves and apprehension, on occasions exhilaration at having responded to questions in a forthright and confident manner, along with the uncertainties that will preoccupy the immediate weeks before results are known and tertiary study futures are imminent. As a community, we pause and pray for them and their families at this time.

As a postscript, one among many statements of appreciation have come through to the College from parents who are leaving after many years. The following seems particularly worthy of publishing as we begin another term, in context of a family of three boys who end their time with the College over the coming weeks:

“Our boys gained so much more from Riverview than they ever could have imagined; they continually speak of the bond they have with many friendships made, being spiritually strengthened through the wellbeing and character-building advice from teachers and mentors. This will stay with them throughout their lives, assisting them along their journey to fulfil whatever they wish to achieve. The journey they have experienced has been truly exceptional and is something we are very touched by.”

As we come back for another term, let us commit to the higher order imperatives and to ensure that in just nine weeks from now, from each and every boy, there is a deep sense of satisfaction and reward from engaging fully in the mission of the College.

Dr Paul Hine