Good morning and Wominjeka to all in our Marcellin family,
I especially wish a warm welcome to our year sevens, who have just completed their first week of Marcellin life, and year twelves, who have just embarked on their final year as secondary school students.
What an opportunity we have today to celebrate the Class of 2018’s prestigious Dux recipients, to commend them on their persistence, motivation and determination they demonstrated in their studies, which has seen them finish as the top achievers in their cohort.
Congratulations to you all, your presence today is greatly appreciated, and you should be proud of all the hard work and sacrifice that went into getting you here, we all are. I hope that you have thoroughly and safely enjoyed that well-earned break, and we wish you well, not only for your future studies, but lives - keep pushing forward, with Virtute Ad Altissima in your hearts.
On top of the personal growth which these young men have fostered through their studies, they have also helped our community to grow, by setting the standard. The standard of pushing yourself and your mates to achieve the best they can, and to do so in a balanced way with everything else that fills the busy timetables we all have.
While not knowing for sure, I would presume that there are not many Dux recipients here today who, when studying in their final summer break, or staying behind after class to do that little bit extra, or especially when they received a disappointing Sac mark, were 100% confident that their journey would lead them here. At many stages throughout their studies, each young man, not only the Dux recipients - would have experienced disappointment, would have hit the wall - would’ve have felt vulnerable. Brené Brown, a famous American psychologist and author discusses the notion of vulnerability in-depth across much of her work, studying people and leadership. One priceless lesson I have learned from her work is that to be vulnerable is to be courageous. I see vulnerability in our context as members of a Marist secondary school as being unafraid to make mistakes, ask questions in class, standing by your values, speaking up against injustice. Being able to rumble with your vulnerability, as Brown says, is the difference between unlocking your full potential, and making excuses as to why you can’t or why it hasn’t yet happened.
In line with the concept of embracing your vulnerability, this year as a Marist collective, we are called to holiness. Often, I have found that the annual themes which we are presented are lost in translation, and many of us are unable to see just how tangible it is to live out what they call us to be.
Throughout the holidays, while away with friends and family in particular, I sat and brainstormed what being called to holiness really embodies. Two overlapping characteristics really stuck out, wholeheartedness firstly, and secondly, the Marist characteristic of simplicity. While these might not mean a lot to you right now, they will. I know some of you might be sitting here today a little disengaged, or distracted, but I want you to listen.... now.
In the busy world we live in, distractions often flood us and prevent us from focusing on what really matters. They prevent us from seeing past superficiality in people, from engaging with our work, activities and fostering relationships with purpose and integrity. In these times, it is important that we are able to strip life back to the basics and see through those distractions, to become aware of what is really important, make it simpler.
The reason I speak of wholeheartedness, is because it is the key state of being for us to live fulfilling lives, that make a difference. In a world where people are afraid… afraid of walking alone in the street, of ice caps melting, of persecution for being who you are. Many of us are stuck afraid of being held accountable or taking a leap of faith into our infinite possibility.
Being wholehearted means that you will have the courage to choose the right, despise what is petty and shun all selfishness - we preach this at every gathering, so practice it by standing up for what you believe in, have the courage to call out your mates or anyone, for not being the best version of themselves.
I have had many conversations recently around respect, not only towards women, but towards everyone. However, today I wish to focus on how we as a collective, respect women. For the majority of us, we are able to act as we would towards girls as we would our mothers or sisters, but for some astounding reason, we don’t always. As I say this, I wish to emphasis that this is not an attack on men, because that would be ridiculous. The reason I say this, is because as a community, we have a responsibility to ensure everyone’s safety. I hear all the time that “not all men rape, not all men abuse”, and that’s 100% right, but the issue is, while women have been fighting the fight against those who do for an eternity, as males, a lot of us still struggle to find the courage to call it out.
For us, the situations we face everyday do not equate to the horrific stories we hear in the media. For us, it looks like bragging about your stats from the weekend to your mates and objectifying them. It looks disrespecting your teachers, who are here to support you. It looks like degrading women by using sexist jokes or making sexist remarks.
This is where we can be the change. Everyone here supports equality for men and women, and if you don’t, I’m happy to chat. But wanting the change is not enough. Be courageous, wholehearted and vulnerable by calling it out, because every woman, every person is worthy of respect, and dignity.
Former Australian of the Year, Lieutenant General David Morrison stated: "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept". That goes for all of us. So please, I invite you into the profound courageous place of vulnerability. We are only here on Earth for a short time, and at Marcellin for a fraction of that. Make each moment matter. Stand up for personal excellence, stand up for justice and stand for up maroon, blue and gold.
2019 College Captain