Last Thursday evening we had the honour of farewelling the Graduating Class of 2018, all 170 of them, giving us the opportunity for members of our Marist community to come together to celebrate with Christ at the centre.
Across Australian Marist Communities in 2018, the national theme is ‘For the plans I have for you … to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11).
In the Year of Youth and taking up our 2018 theme of believing in hope and a future for all people, we as Marists, through our word and action, have offered the world a new way of seeing and being. A world where every young person can enjoy the hope of a future beyond the horizon which they are yet to discover. Pope Francis said that ‘a single individual is enough for hope to exist.’ The Good News is that our Marist communities are full of single individuals that together create an ‘us’.
The strength of our Marist community is the family spirit that underpins the relationships that our Year 12 students have formed over the course of their time at Newman College. Commencing with the Graduation Assembly in the morning, the Secondary school farewelled them with a celebration of their achievements. Their families joined the students for Mass in the late afternoon celebrated by Fr Joe Tran. This was a moving and special occasion commissioning our students for the next stage of their lives. Mass was followed by a light supper and then the Graduation Ceremony which took on the theme of Hope. It was a magnificent day and a wonderful rite of passage for our students. Thank you to all staff who have been involved in the journey of our students; for some commencing in 2004 in Kindergarten. Thank you to the parents for your unconditional support and collaboration with our community particularly over the past 12 months. We wish them well in their upcoming exams and completion of all courses.
I wish to reproduce herewith the speech I gave on the night…..
Good Evening Graduating Class 2018, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Today we meet to honour, affirm, recognise, to pray for and give thanks for the contribution made by these fine young people of Newman College. We celebrate as a community the end of a very significant stage of their lives – their school education. This occasion gives us the opportunity to take time to reflect on the dreams, aspirations, and expectations of our lives.
For parents … the dreams you had for your sons and daughters all those years ago, and how those years have played out; the highs, the lows, the joys, the tears as you witnessed their growth into the fine young people they are today.
For the graduating class – to reflect on your own aspirations and expectations of how you have come to this point – your final day at Newman College. In doing this I ask the graduating class to consider the following questions of the their time at Newman:
- What have been your goals?
- Have you achieved your personal best?
- Have you taken every opportunity afforded?
- What have been the challenges? …How have you reacted?
- What have you learnt about yourself? Your peers?
- What has it meant be member of a College community? A Marist community
- How has this experience of Newman College given you the foundation to navigate the future ahead?
Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American poet, in the early nineteenth century, is attributed with the following: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
Graduating Class of 2018, at this most significant event there is one very important and most valuable element that lies within you;
- one which, through love, has brought you into this world;
- one which has seen you develop into the young people that you are today;
- one which has inspired you to be the leaders that you have been in this community and amongst your peers;
…that same quality which has made you empathetic, courageous, sensitive, humorous, compassionate, critical and conscientious citizens;
…that quality which will be your precious asset in leaving Newman College and commencing a new and exciting chapter of your life; that enduring quality that God has bestowed upon you; faith.
Your faith and learning journey have been shared with each other.
You have valued relationships, exemplified through:
- your reflection and spirituality at the Senior Retreat,
- the highs and joy of the College Ball,
- your collaboration with your teachers,
- your respect and support of Mr McLaughlin, known respectfully known as ‘dad’
- and when one of you were down someone was always there
you have demonstrated a willingness to get involved and flexibility to try new things:
- #challengeyear12 / Year 12 Mentoring program
- Remar Solidarity Camp in Mullewa, supporting the agricultural community for REMAR
- Philippines Immersion, walking in solidarity with dislocated marginalized youth
- the spectacularly successful Year 7 disco
- Year 7 Homework club
- the amazing Grease musical
- Catholic Performing Arts or the Primary Ensemble choir
- the winning of the ACC Swimming and Athletics Carnivals
- the Marist Sporting Carnivals
- NAS Finals victories
- and the Marist Footy Club’s U18 boys victory
Year 12, you have stood up for what you have believed to be right. Your leadership group, so well led by Anika and Chris, and so many others advocated on many issues; in particular the promotion of fundraising efforts for Marist Solidarity and Caritas Australia
There have been times when we have not agreed on all things BUT you have got on with things with resilience and dignity
Whilst we may never be fully prepared for what lies ahead of us, I believe that you have many tools within you which will serve you well.
I have given much reflection to what possible wisdom, story and example or even some advice that one may offer at this time as we say farewell. Opportunely I noted on the news last Sunday that the Catholic Church canonized Archbishop Oscar Romero as a saint. His story as some of you know from your Religion and life ATAR class is quite remarkable.
For all here today in brief:
- On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador was fatally shot at the altar while celebrating Mass. The archbishop was an outspoken and internationally well-known opponent of the El Salvador government’s oppression and violence against its own people. Many of them were young people who wanted their voice heard.
- 75,000 died in the civil conflict over that decade.
- Saint Oscar Romero was the voice of the voiceless poor; he denounced the killings, the torture and the disappearances of community leaders; he demanded justice and recompense for the atrocities committed by the army and police and he set up legal aid projects and pastoral programs to support the victims of the violence. Archbishop Romero, rejecting the violence and strained every nerve to promote peaceful solutions to his nation’s crisis.
Pope Francis said on Sunday:
Saint Oscar Romero “left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people, with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters.
Today I am asking you to have the courage to stand up for your convictions, like Romero. Not to lose your life but to gain life and hope through the strength that comes from faith; to be prepared to be an advocate and be of service to others. This is not always easy, you will be questioned, challenged and at times confronted.
Our Vision for Learning “Shine through Discovery”, (Mathew 5:16 Let your light shine) calls us to be transformative, to take action for our own lives so to serve other. It is the same vision that I pray you take with you in the future ahead. My dream, our dream, for you lay in the words of our founder…
St. Marcellin Champagnat contends,
“Their lives will be the echo of what you have taught them.”
May you continue to dream big, believe in yourselves and know that you can make a difference.
REMEMBER: Our greatest fear is not in what we cannot do… it is in what we can do.
YEAR 12 You have left your mark. THANK YOU, YEAR 12 for who you are, what you have achieved
We wish you the very best in to the future: I leave you to ponder the words of Saint Oscar Romero
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
On behalf of our PK-12 community – 1900 students strong, Year 12, God bless and good luck.