- The theme of the Student Mass during the week was Staying True – something of a leitmotif in Jesuit education. It represents an amalgam of the spirit of Lent while embracing the practical implications of the student motto for 2018: Many Wolves, One Pack. Lent is a time to go inwards to develop the interior life; an opportunity to reflect deeply on those habits, foibles and frailties that hold us back from being who we need to be; of adopting attitudes and actions that promote generosity, inclusivity and service. It is also a time to look around and identify those who are on the margins in our school and our community, and, extend the hand of friendship in a sincere and authentic way. In Jesuit parlance, it is about being ‘a man for others’ in a more complete, focussed, forthright and purposeful manner. Therein lies the challenge, particularly over the next few weeks as we embrace the spirit of Lent at one of the most important times of the liturgical calendar.
Like many, I am captivated by the boys’ motto for 2018; the dual metaphor of wolves and pack loom large in the Ignatian story. Captured so eloquently by Rudyard Kipling in his fiction work The Jungle Book (1895): “… the strength of the wolf is in the pack, and the strength of the pack is in the wolf.” The motto is an alluring insight into both diversity and unity; a mantra for boys to take up each other’s cause to build solidarity and community, be they in Year 5 or Year 12. It is a noble principle and well worth investing in. I have seen much evidence of this since the early weeks of the year, particularly observing senior boys who have gone out of their way to look after our newest arrivals.
The concept of the Riverview pack was established a very long time ago by the pioneers who gave shape and direction to this extraordinary school, one that has resonated down through the years. This became poignantly obvious during the week when I had the fortune to spend time with the Year 6 boys who were visiting the archives and becoming familiar with the stories of generations of men who have contributed in their own distinctive way to the Riverview story. Names like Dalton, Therry, Fraser and Fagan loom large in this extravagant history, as do some of the illustrious alumni such as poet Christopher Brennan, renown Art Critic and author Robert Hughes, eight Rhodes Scholars, and even an astronaut – Paul Scully-Power. The boys were curious to research these men and understand their contribution to the foundational story of the College and the role that they have played across the decades. Old Boys reached out from the pages of the past, so many of them, who were fired by an ambition and an aspiration to use their God given talents to pursue new and noteworthy frontiers in their chosen fields of pursuit.
Amid that diversity and over many years, the College has produced men who have a deep regard for the other – for want of a better term, for those outside of the pack. Nick Harrington , Joseph Wehbe and the late Patrick Rodgers, have responded with a deep personal commitment to the cause of civic duty and global citizenship at the highest level. They have opened schools in Uganda, built accommodation and housing in Nepal and taken the cause of education to Cambodia, respectively. Each has stayed true to the principles of their education and taken Jesuit endeavour to the many corners of the globe, and, at very young ages. Inspired by the ideal of service, such men have animated the audacious cause of their education and have made an appreciable difference in some of the most disadvantaged, demanding and challenging regions of the world. In a very practical way, these men are expressions of ‘a faith that does justice’ in the world, something that we should honour and be proud of, particularly during this time of Lent.
“The weather was bright and cheerful; the attendance very large and fashionable, and the different events were contested by the competitors in an animated but friendly manner… The part of the river which was the scene for these pleasant proceedings presented an unusually picturesque appearance with the number of steamers, launches and boats of every description contributing to the prettiness of the scene.”
The activity on the Lane Cove River over the weekend has stayed true to the original event and all who participated, be they school teams or external rowing clubs, felt the weight of tradition and the special place that this event has come to occupy.
As we move towards the latter stage of the term, there is much on the horizon to be mindful of. Among other things, this includes:
- The end of the summer sporting program and End Of Season Dinners for senior teams
- House Masses and Immersion Reflection Evenings
- The T20 Charity Cricket match in support of Redfern Jarjum College
- The Head of the River
- Year 12 End of Semester Examinations and Year 12 Retreats
There is much to be grateful for as we move to the latter stages of the term. May the week ahead be one where the spirit of Lent is made manifest and where the strength of community is abundant.