From the Principal
Last week I was privileged to be a part of the 2016 Year 12 Retreat, held at Rawson Village in Gippsland. In nearly 30 years of teaching, most of them in Catholic education, I have rarely been so proud of a group of young men as I watched them engage fully with the program and take advantage of the opportunities on offer.
While my role was primarily to work with and lead a small discussion group within Mark’s House I was keenly aware of how the three days unfolded. Deputy Principal — Faith & Mission Mrs Rana Brogan did a superb job in organising, resourcing and providing overall direction and leadership for the Year 12 students’ Retreat experience. In working closely with Mark’s House students and talking with staff at the various breaks it was very quickly abundantly clear the students were not only engaged and cooperative but gaining a great deal from the various sessions we ran.
Year 12 boys can sometimes approach the Retreats with a little suspicion — even trepidation — wondering whether the event may be three full days of formal lectures/classes or something similar. The driving force behind the Retreat is to make it meaningful and relevant to young men at the beginning of Year 12, as they make the transition from adolescence to senior students, on the cusp of adulthood. We structure the program on a platform or background of our Catholic faith and the Lasallian charism underpins virtually all the aims and objectives of the various sessions. Based on this, the Retreats are obviously essentially a spiritual experience but with the capacity to address contemporary issues for our young men.
The activities, discussions and reflections enable, empower, challenge and inspire the students on topics around resilience, values and beliefs, relationships (peers, family etc) aspirations and goal setting, faith, affirmation and motivation.
Feedback from both students and staff was overwhelmingly positive. The students were fully engaged and embraced wholeheartedly the invitation to be involved, contribute, ask questions, share reflections and present opinions. They genuinely relished the opportunity to hear stories and experiences shared by the staff leading the groups and in turn the students themselves opened up and shared remarkable insights into their lives, their hopes, their concerns and their dreams. This is a powerful experience for all concerned; perhaps a little unconventional for the Year 12 students, but a terrific example of building trust, rapport and positive relationships. This will stand them in good stead as the year unfolds.
A particular highlight of the Retreat was the innovative use of recent Old Collegians as small group leaders. I invited two boys from Year 12 2014 and six of last year’s graduates to support the four teachers working with each House group of about 42 Year 12 students. Their mature and responsible approach, their capacity to connect with the current students and act as advisers/mentors was a wonderful addition to the program.
Lasallian Leaders Gathering
Last Sunday to Tuesday I attended the annual Lasallian Leaders Gathering at Lancefield. Principals, Religious/Faith/Lasallian Coordinators and Board Chairs from the Lasallian District of Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea joined senior Brothers and executives from the Lasallian Mission Council. One key outcome from the three days’ workshops, seminars and presentations focused on a contemporary application of Pope Francis’ spirituality and recent key messages.
The powerful relevance of many of Pope Francis’ keynote communications and the clear links to our everyday work in schools were valuable and effective. Under the banner of the Pope’s Theology of Mission Fr Noel Connolly spoke at length about Francis’ encouraging those of us working in the Church arena to be effective communicators, to build a culture of encounter. Quotes such as these below really provide sound, basic and deeply meaningful advice for all of us — teachers, parents and students alike.
“Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts…”
“People only express themselves when they are not merely tolerated, but know they are deeply appreciated.”
“We are challenged to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert.”
Mission Action Day
While it seems like we have only barely returned to school for 2016 the very short Term 1 and early Easter means it is less than five weeks until Mission Action Day, our major fundraising event for the year to support Lasallian charitable works around the globe.
This year we are once again looking to raise in excess of $100,000 as we have done so successfully in 2014 and 2015. So many of our less fortunate Lasallian communities rely on the unselfish and generous approach of our students in raising sponsorship under the direction of our very dedicated MAD Committee, including for the first time the four House Lasallian Coordinators from the Year 12 cohort.
The $103,000 raised last year was distributed via our partnership with the Lasallian Foundation to support our projects around places such as India, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Vietnam, South Sudan and a couple of local projects such as Luurnpa Catholic School in Balgo and Foundation House in Dandenong, which cares for asylum seekers. The 2015 Year 12 Coolies, the Year 11 Papua New Guinea works and the VCAL students’ Balgo trip all made major contributions to much needed building works.
Other funds were distributed to Pakistani Lasallian schools to assist in necessities we take for granted:
- power generators in communities which previously could never access electricity 24 hours a day
- major works to provide clean drinking water
- playground equipment and basic paving
- essential maintenance like painting, electricals and furniture
- immersion water pump to supply a whole school site
It is critical for our Lasallian partners that they receive funds from communities like Malvern to ensure their young people continue to have access to education of improving quality. When they can make available a steady educational experience, administrators and teachers in many of these schools in Asia and Africa need support in providing anything above what we would see as basic conditions and facilities. All of us at De La Salle Malvern are tremendously proud of the support we have been able to provide over the years and given the positive and generous approach our boys have to Mission Action Day each year I am sure we can continue the tradition. Our Lasallian neighbours are relying on us!
Congratulations to Kathie Holmes on the arrival of her grandson Sebastijan Anthony Smrk on 13 February and to Larry Evans on the arrival of grandson Charlie.
Mr Peter Houlihan
Year 7, 2017 applications close Friday 26 February 2016
If you have a son who is expected to start at De La Salle in Year 7 next year, please make sure that you have submitted an application form for him. Siblings of current students are our first priority when offering places, however the application form must be submitted by the deadline. If the application is late, it cannot be included in the first round offers.