Friday 24 November 2017

The Rector Mobile

The School Mass and Assembly, which was held on Wednesday to honour and thank Fr Ross for his outstanding contribution as Rector over the last seven years, had its own delicate balance of both sadness and gratitude. Preaching for the last time in a formal sense, Fr Ross highlighted the features of this extraordinary school that he will miss – the Riverview handshake, the friendliness of the boys, the residential boarding community and the friends that he has made over the years. It was clear that the current Rector is something of a cultural icon in the school, much loved and much respected. But he is bigger than any notions of being indispensable – he is a man who has made an unfailing commitment to others and he has served his ministry with great zeal and faith. Following the Mass in the Ramsay Hall, Fr Ross was bundled into the Rector Mobile and then colonnaded back to the Rose Garden where his favourite food – sausage rolls, was shared by all.

It would take much larger than the weekly publication of the Viewpoint to attest to all that Fr Ross has brought to the shores of Riverview over his time as Rector, but it is with enormous gratitude that we extend our deepest appreciation for all that he has done. With a penchant for religious art, Fr Ross has commissioned a number of works of art during his time and one of the most distinctive are two panels that appear in the Dalton Chapel. The artist, Michael Christie, was commissioned over recent months to create a simulacrum of that work, and this was presented to Fr Ross in appreciation of his time at Riverview. Wherever Fr Ross goes from here, he will take with him a distinctive memory of this College and the contribution he has made to it. For that, we give thanks. An occasion for the broader members of the College community – parents, past parents and members of the OIU to farewell Fr Ross will be held on Sunday 3rd December in the Rose Garden. For those who would like to attend, please register here.

On Friday afternoon, on the 19th floor of a building in Sydney’s CBD, history was made. Documents were signed that moved the last 138 years of Riverview’s legal status as a non-incorporated entity into a company limited by guarantee. Two new Directors of the Board, Greg McKay and Harvey Gaynor, signed over a suite of documents that transferred assets to the new corporation to enable the College to fulfil its many obligations – legal, financial, fiduciary, compliance and the like, to the next stage of its history. Riverview was the first of the schools to complete the legal transfer, with St Aloysius, Xavier and St Ignatius’ (Adelaide) to follow in quick succession. This transfer of status will allow the College to move into the new corporate environment yet, and most importantly, enable the Jesuit charism upon which it exists to flourish and grow into the future. The importance of this development, after the better part of two years of intensive preparation for this transfer, cannot be underestimated.

Parents, friends and staff who have been pursuing the curriculum interface of STEM at the Regis campus gathered on Friday evening to participate in the STEAM Exhibition. There was much on offer, from self-tying shoes to bio-spheres and space stations – all products of the integrated and problem-centred nature of the teaching and learning process. One of the most impressive elements of the Exhibition was the diversity of the projects that have been pursued and the thinking that has guided them. Equally impressive was the boys’ confidence in talking with authority and insight about their work; about the obstacles that they encountered along the way and the methods used to reach nuanced and informed decisions. This is open-ended learning, removed from the constraints that are often the corollary of standardised rubrics and the conventional determinism that drives curriculum experiences associated with the New South Wales Educational Authority (NESA).

Yet another highlight in the week was Regis in Concert, which profiled the music program and the achievements of the boys across the later primary years. Most striking about the concert was the proficiency that the boys have reached across a range of musical genres and the diversity of musical instruments. From the Year 6 Combined Band that drew on trumpet, French horn, clarinet, flute and trombone to the Concert Band that embraced the many who have pursued strings – cello, violin and bass; the impact of performance was quite arresting. And, to add a special flavour to complete the evening, the Rock Band added their own stamp with covers from Green Day and Cream, blending more distant with contemporary eras of music that resonated with the parents as much as the boys. Congratulations young men on all that has been achieved and thanks to the parents as well as the staff who continue to make exceptional efforts to celebrate the boys’ learning and achievement despite the busyness of the term.

Like all things Jesuit, Fr Ross is another turning of the page. He has given exemplary service to the boys over seven years, as he has to the staff, the parents, the Old Boys and the legion of past parents. Rather than lament his loss, we must give gratitude for all that he has given over his time at Riverview – his prudent counsel, his deep knowledge of theology, his daily witness to cura personalis, and, his ministry of integrity to mission of the Society of Jesus. Yes, he moves on, but I am thankful that the incoming Rector, Fr Jack McLain – for whom I have enormous personal respect – will be stepping into this important role to animate the principles of Jesuit education at Riverview in a most distinctive way to carry on the legacy of the current Rector, honoured with his own Rector Mobile!!

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Fr Ross Jones, SJ