From the Principal

The first few weeks of the school year have been a great success, with staff, students and parents working together to ensure a smooth beginning to the term. This is a positive sign of a strong, healthy and vibrant educational environment.

Last week, Christians around the world marked the beginning of Lent with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. Both campuses here at De La Salle held staff liturgies before school and House / Class Mentors ran a similar ceremony in an extended Mentor Group. This ancient day and season has a surprisingly modern appeal. In reading an article in Time magazine about Pope Francis and his views on Lent, I found that beyond Christmas, more people turn up to church on Ash Wednesday than any other day of the year—including Easter.

This mystique isn’t for Catholics alone. The customs of Lent have a quality to them that transcend our religion, most notably, the act of fasting. There is also a distinctly Lasallian link and message for all of us, regardless of your approach to or belief in the traditions of Lent. While Catholics traditionally fast on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during the Lenten season, many people—religious or not—take up this increasingly popular discipline during the year.

Pope Francis’ request is for us to reconsider the heart of this fasting this Lenten season. According to Francis, fasting must never become superficial.

No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others”.

So, if we’re going to fast from anything this Lent, Francis suggests that even more than a particular food or drink, we abstain from indifference towards others. In relation to Lent, the pope writes,

Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”

Describing this phenomenon he calls the globalisation of indifference, Francis writes

Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”

Each of us will interpret those words in our own way and apply our own personal meaning and relevance. However, I see a clear link between these words and our Lasallian mission. Encouraging us to avoid a culture of indifference speaks to the heart of our charism’s key messages and highlights what we stand for as a College. We want our community – especially the wonderful young men at the heart of our community – to move beyond their own interests and concerns, as valuable as they are to each of us. The 2018 De La Salle theme of “Inclusivity” supports this line of thinking and positive behaviours. In both the traditional and especially the contemporary Lasallian environment, key touchstones make all the difference in accepting all, caring about issues and people around you and generally looking outward. Hence the current term, “Lasallians without limits.”

In our College we subscribe to and activate intrinsic principles such as:

  • Relationship is key, a heart must be touched
  • Use language and develop a culture of hope and optimism
  • Be creative with how we approach students’ challenges and challenging situations
  • Students need someone in their corner – a role model, mentor, someone to set and administer standards
  • It’s always about the mission, remembering why we’re really here
  • We believe most students want to do well, and are capable of doing so. They just need support, belief, role modelling, mentoring, boundaries, expectations and motivation.

Thank you to all those families who attended the Welcome and Commissioning Mass on Wednesday evening at the magnificent St Patrick’s Cathedral. It was truly a wonderful celebration and a fitting way to acknowledge and welcome all our new students and families for 2018. Our 2018 College Leaders were also presented to the congregation.

Last Thursday the Parent Network hosted an informal welcome function for Year 7 parents to assist the settling in process and support the parents in meeting others from their sons’ cohort. It was a very successful night; the biggest crowd we’ve had in the three years we’ve been running the event and a great opportunity for parents to meet and chat over drinks and nibbles.

In supporting our terrific relationship with the De La Salle Old Collegians Amateur Football Club, I’d ask you to take a look at the flyer in the Important Notices inviting you to attend their season launch. This is a wonderful event, arguably the biggest season launch in suburban football, with about 300 regularly attending at the RACV Club in the city. Each year the Old Colls attract some terrific guests, this year highlighted by Neil Balme and Garry Lyon. We hope many in our community take up the invitation and attend this event on Friday 6 April, 1:00pm – 4:00pm.

And finally, good luck to the ACC Swimming Team for the ACC Swimming Carnival on Friday at the MSAC who will be trying to go one better in 2018 and win the Carnival after the dramatic improvement in the past two years where we have finished second to Whitefriars. The swimming team have been training at Harold Holt pool with new coach Guy Eylon since Term 3 last year with many also committed to a heavy training schedule with their private clubs and coaches. We wish the team all the very best!

Mr Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2018 02 - 22 February 2018