De La Salle College

St James Brighton Community Mass

On Sunday 17 September 2017, the College celebrated a community mass at St James in Brighton. During the service, Year 12 student, Oliver Hart read a reflection on social justice at De La Salle College. Oliver’s full reflection has been included below.

Good morning Fr Malcolm, the St James Parish community and the De La Salle students and staff. It gives me great pleasure to speak to you this morning on behalf of my school about our social justice commitments. At De La Salle College, we pride ourselves on our meaningful connections with the local community. Our school makes a conscious effort to provide all the boys, including myself, with regular opportunities to give back. Including notable initiatives such as participating in the Good Friday Appeal and Very Special Kids Fundraisers. Further, with the reinvigoration of the House system in recent years, each House now runs its own separate fundraisers to support their individual House charities such as St Vincent de Paul Society and Caritas Australia. More particularly, as a whole, our school recognises the perdurable need for generosity in assisting organisations such as Sacred Heart Mission in providing basic essentials to the needy in our community. With our annual Social Justice Mass occurring this coming Friday, the amount of essential products the boys have kindly brought in so far will definitely help out Sacred Heart Mission immensely. 

As a Lasallian School, the idea of giving back through social justice activities and service to others is at the core of our faith identity. A key message from our founder St John Baptist de La Salle reads that “example makes a much greater impression than words”. This means that whilst some may voice sympathy to those less well-off than us, it is acts of selflessness and love that have a compounded positive effect on the lives of others. In our College Prayer created recently by the Lasallian and College Captains, we acknowledge that as ‘De La boys’ our actions are truly ‘inspired by a burning zeal to do what is right and just’. 

To enact this, every year Mission Action Day or MAD day is run as a school-wide student fundraising project where students are sponsored to walk a 12km loop of Gardiners Creek Trail in the East Malvern area. In recent years this social justice activity has raised in excess of $100,000 dollars annually, which enables our school to support our connected missions around the world in countries such as Papua New Guinea, India, South Sudan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Whilst money is also donated to specifically chosen charitable organisations, the main portion is this money is allocated by the school to assisting the poorest missions domestically and around the world. Some of these missions also involve the immersion of our students.

At the end of each year our graduating class is provided with the opportunity to participate in the ‘Yalawo’ program, formerly known as ‘Coolies’ in the weeks following their last VCE exam. This year the group of boys will be travelling to Diyagala Boystown in Sri Lanka for a four week trip in which they will live with the Brothers and fully immerse themselves in the Sri Lankan community. The boys will work as labourers in these four weeks, aiming to build a sick bay while also renovating classrooms and bathrooms for the school. For the boys, this program is a unique cultural opportunity to give back to another Lasallian community. Listening to Old Collegians each year talk about their experience on this trip highlights the lasting impact it has on the students who go. It really is an opportunity that many boys in younger year levels look forward to having as they reach their last year of high school. De La does also provide students of younger year levels with the opportunity of immersion in other missions such as the Year 9 or Year 10 trip to the Philippines, the Year 11 trip to Papua New Guinea and the VCAL trip to Wilcannia in northern NSW. 

With the strong guidance from mentors such as our Principal, Mr. Peter Houlihan and our Deputy Principal — Faith and Mission, Mrs Rana Brogan, De La Salle is a school that continually values furthering our Lasallian charism by giving back and continuing the tradition of supporting communities who are in need. 

Oliver Hart
St Leo’s House Lasallian Captain 2017