27 October 2011 - St Mary's College Graduation Mass

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > 27 October 2011 - St Mary's College Graduation Mass

St Mary’s College
Graduation Mass
27 October 2011

It is amazing to think that just one week ago, on last Friday, I was present at a short meeting of all the bishops of Australia, at which Pope Benedict spoke to us about the perspective that he has of our country at this present time. The meeting took place in one of the many audience rooms on the second floor of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The whole building is decorated in a way that your eye never tires of looking around and seeing something new and attractive.

In the Pope’s short speech, he recalled with distinct pleasure his visit to Australia for World Youth Day which took place in July 2008. He clearly has some very happy memories of that visit, and the opportunity to meet with many young people at the time. At one stage during his address he reminded us that “the Holy Spirit never ceased to awaken in young hearts the desire for holiness and apostolic zeal.”

He also recalled the more recent event, the canonisation of Australia’s first saint, St. Mary of the Cross, Mackillop. He spoke of St. Mary as an “innovative teacher of the young and an energetic role model for all concerned with excellence in education.” The Pope would be fully aware that St. Mary is only one of many who have been innovative teachers of the young and energetic role models for all concerned with excellence in education. There would be no doubt that Nano Nagle would also be included in such a list.

All too quickly it seems, we are approaching the end of another year, and tonight’s graduation Mass is a very telling reminder of how quickly we have reached such a point. For the graduating class of year 12, the association with St. Mary’s College will come to an end. For some of you, this is the only school you have ever attended, and so your love for the school and your loyalty to it will be even stronger.

We meet on the feast day of two of the apostles, St Simon and St. Jude. They were well down in order of seniority, occupying positions of number ten and number eleven on the list. There was only one name still lower; you can all guess who that was.

Nothing really is known about their lives after the group of apostles dispersed into different parts of the known world at the time. It is said that they headed for Persia; it is presumed that they suffered the same fate as the entire group except St. John, and that they were martyred.

In the first reading St Paul says that none of us are any longer aliens or foreign visitors, we are all citizens alike, and part of the household of God. In other words, there is a place for everyone – and everyone has a contribution to make.

I hope that at some time in the future your group will have a reunion, and it will be very interesting to learn of the directions you lives have taken. But it is not about your achievements in the end, but the kind of person you are, that will really matter, and that is a lesson which I am sure you have been given by your teaches here at St. Mary’s College.

It is interesting to note that prior to making his final choice of apostles, Jesus went into the hills to pray, and in fact he spent the whole night in prayer. Choosing the right people for the job was most important and he needed to give it plenty of thought. Even though Simon and Jude were not among the most prominent, but they were still seen by Jesus as being important members of the  founding group.  We do not know what contributions these two saints were able to make in the discussions and functioning of the group together.

Perhaps there is a lesson for us here – that when we have an important decision to make,  we give ourselves the time to pray and to ponder, to discern as best we can what is the best path to take. While decisions need to be made, we have to give ourselves the time and space to make them only after due care, prayer and thought.

Tonight is an opportunity for you, the young ladies of the graduation class, to give thanks to God for the wonderful opportunity you have been given, to pursue your education at St. Mary’s College. I know that you realise how fortunate you have been.

During the course of this year, the responsibility for the governance of the college passed from the Presentation Sisters to the Archdiocese of Hobart, and a governing council which I now chair. I have given an assurance that the history of the college in the Presentation tradition will be respected fully, and that the charism of Nano Nagle will be promoted in the future as it has been in the past.

I wish to thank the  Presentation Sisters for their particular presence and contribution to the College, under the leadership of Sr. Majella Kelly and with the support of the Leadership Council.

I also wish to thank the Principal Mr Tom Dorey for yet another year of committed service as Principal, and I also thank Mrs Jacqui Conboy for taking on the role of Acting Principal during the time that Mr Dorey was taking well-earned leave during in the year.

I also wish to thank you, the parents, for your support of your daughters and of the College. I am sure you are very pleased with the education outcomes for your daughters, but parental support and involvement is necessary if the best results are to be achieved.

In a brief conversation with Pope Benedict, I gave him two small gifts. One was a small Huon Pine cutting in the shape of Tasmania. I told him that very likely, that wood was growing at the time that Jesus was on earth. The other gift was a small book with photos of Tasmania, including a picture of St. John’s Catholic Church, Richmond. I told him that it is the oldest Catholic Church in Tasmania. It was near this Church that the Sisters of the Presentation first took up residence in 1866, before moving to this site two years later. The continual presence of St. Mary’s College on this site is something for which again tonight, all of us are grateful.