Graduation Ceremony Guilford Young College

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Graduation Ceremony
Guildford Young College
1 November 2011

I have been thinking in recent days about the time that I came here to this venue in 1997 to attend the Graduation Ceremony of that year. If I have made the correct calculations, you, the graduation students of 2011 would not have
yet begun your schooling. I do not remember the exact date, but it would have been between 3rd and 10th November of that year. Why I know that is because it was on 3rd November 1997, that I received the letter informing me of the wish
of the Pope, that he wished me to take on the role of Archbishop. The public announcement occurred on 10th November.
On that night I had accompanied my predecessor, Archbishop Eric D’Arcy, and I was seated somewhere over in that part of the auditorium to my right, in one of the higher rows from which I had a good overall view. Already my mind was beginning to address some of the consequences of this new phase in my life, and one of the first decisions was in relation to the venue for the actual ordination as a bishop. It occurred to me on that night of the Graduation that this would be a very suitable venue, and indeed, as some who are present here this evening will remember, it was the place chosen for that very
memorable event.

During the ordination ceremony, I was asked a number of questions, all beginning with the words “Are you resolved..?” The questions related to the role of a bishop in particular as leader, shepherd and teacher. It is in the role of teacher, that one of my most important responsibilities is carried out through the network of Catholic schools and colleges, 37 in all which operate throughout Tasmania under my authority.

One of the most important decisions I made while Archbishop was in relation to the establishment of a secondary facility at St. Aloysius College in Kingston. I believed that it was important to ensure, right from the outset, that there was a clear focus on it being a Catholic school. The planning group were able to assure me of that by producing a charter for the new College. Some time later, it was expanded into the Archbishop’s Charter for all Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese. When the time comes to retire, I will consider this as a most important achievement and a true expression of my role as Teacher. As I say in the letter of introduction, the charter is an instrument to guide those who are involved with individual schools and colleges, either as the Principal and teaching staff, or as members of the school board. It is also a way of assuring parents of students in our Catholic Schools and Colleges, that it is possible to express with clarity the Catholic charter and the Catholic Ethos of the education facility that their children attend.

I am very pleased to be able to present the Mandate Certificate to the Principal of Guilford Young College. I realise that it expresses the reassurance that the College is what it says it is, “A Catholic College.” I also realise that it takes a considerable amount of time, discussion and work to ensure that the necessary steps have been taken to provide that assurance. It has meant that serious consideration has been given to the eleven distinctive sections of the
charter, which are all important and challenging.

I wish to congratulate all those who are graduating this evening. This is a most significant moment in your young lives, the conclusion of your school education which has covered the last 13 years. Next year you will move in a
wide variety of different directions, according to your talents and your opportunities, and I wish you well in whatever is the direction you take.

Only yesterday, I came across some advice which I believe is very relevant for you as young people. When something hard happens to you, you have two choices in how to deal with it. “You can get bitter, or better.” The article went on to say that “ Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by a final act of love, which is
forgiveness.”1 Once again I wish to thank Mrs Bobby Court for her strong leadership and personal commitment to the College and to the well-being of all the students. It is pleasing to note that this leadership and commitment is being recognised regularly in the wider field of education. I thank all the staff, teaching, administrative and support, for your particular contribution to the activities of the college and the growth and well-being of the students during 2011.

As Chairman of the Governing Council of Guilford Young College, I acknowledge with appreciation, the contribution of all the members of the Council, and the Executive Officer, Mr Stuart Elliss. Likewise, I thank the Chairman of the Board of the College, Mr Michael Harvey and all the members for their oversight of the finances, properties and future directions of the
College. Meeting the needs of the students requires constant vigilance and creativity, and that is what the Board is able to bring about very successfully.

At the end of this year, we say farewell to a number of members of staff, five of whom have been on the teaching staff since the college first opened. Those originals whom we farewell tonight are Eve Prendergast, Roslyn Hey, Brian Marshall, Stan Waters and Chris Hatch, along with Tony Molyneux, Michael Loughnane and Geoff Hardy who have joined the College staff in more recent years. I thank you most sincerely for your contributions and wish you well in your future, be it in retirement or in some other capacity.

Today, as you know, is the feast of All Saints. I remember, some years ago asking the question on this day, whether, when looking at our face in the mirror this morning, we saw the face of a potential saint. Very likely we did not think in those terms, but today is a reminder of the capacity that is within each and every one of us, young and not so young, to aspire to being a saint. The patron saints of the college, listed in the booklet, are an inspiration, but they would be the first to encourage us to view our lives the way they obviously lived theirs – with love of God, and love of others, standing equally on the highest level. May the Saints of God, pray for us and help us.

1 Ronal Rolheiser, Some personal mini-creeds, 11 Sept. 2011