30 January 2011 - Larmenier Catholic School

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > 30 January 2011 - Larmenier Catholic School

4th Sunday of the Year A
30 January 2011

Earlier during this past week, I spent a number of very enjoyable hours reading about the history of Larmenier Catholic School since the doors were first opened on 23 February, 1961, now fifty years ago. I wish to commend all those who have ensured that the history has been documented so well, because it is a very valuable resource for us to have at this time of special celebration.

Certainly there have been some enormous changes from the day that the school first opened to receive 35 primary students. Since that time, the number of enrolments has risen to 1900, and many of you are here tonight as past students and as parents, maybe as grandparents as well.

In reading the material, I gained the distinct impression that the founding of Larmenier was a project very dear to the heart of my predecessor, Archbishop Sir Guilford Young. It was one of a number of schools and colleges which began around that same time. I know that Marist Regional College in Burnie began just a year or so earlier, and St. Brendan Shaw College in Devonport celebrated 50 years of existence just late last year.

It would appear that the Archbishop was a regular visitor at Larmenier, and it was still possible for him to be present on the occasion when Larmenier celebrated 25 years of history. I was very interested to read the account of that occasion:

“In a stirring homily, the Archbishop drew attention to the early days of Larmenier before State Aid began to flow to Independent schools. He said he remembered the first class of 35 in 1961. At that point in 1986, the numbers had risen, he noted,  to 212.

In the course of his homily, Archbishop Young paid tribute to the Sisters of Nazareth, founded by Victoire Larmenier, a French woman. The Sisters had first come to Tasmania to open the first Catholic facility for the Aged, which was known as Nazareth House. The ministry of the Sisters was expanded into education and the Sisters continued to have care and responsibility for the school until 2004. Tonight is another opportunity for us to recognise with gratitude, the commitment and dedication of the many Sisters of Nazareth who came to St. Leonards to join the staff of Larmenier over a period of 42 years.

It is also an opportunity to acknowledge the leadership provided following the departure of the Sisters by Ms Ellie McGuinness, Dr Trish Hindmarsh, (our current Director of Catholic Education)  and now by Mr Peter Douglas. Both the Sisters and the Lay Principals have been very strongly and loyally supported by many lay teachers in the past and at the present. I also wish to acknowledge the involvement of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart as chaplains to the school over many years.

In reading the documentation, I gained the district impression that there has always been a strong parental involvement in Larmenier, and I wish to acknowledge that significant contribution on the part of parents as well.

Over the period of 50 years, it seems to me that there has been very  happy balance in the life of the school, which has involved a understandably strong emphasis the religious education and on the educational development of the students, a focus on music and choirs, a wide involvement in different forms of sport, and of course the initiative which has become quite a highlight in recent years, the development of the farm and the care of the animals and the garden as well. 

I was very interested to note that Larmenier was the first school in Tasmania to establish a computer centre. The 12 disc-driven BBC computers were purchased using the sum of $22,000 provided by the Parents and Friends Association. We certainly have come a long way since then, but it was most important to make a start somewhere.

In the minutes of the Parents and Friends Association during 1980, I noted that a new school logo had been adopted, and that the motto was “Christ is our Model.”  It is still the same logo and motto that is in use today. There can be no doubt that the motto presents us with a powerful message, and one which is re-enforced in the readings for this Jubilee Mass this evening. In every sense, Christ is our Model.

The importance of models, and modelling is very much to the fore today. With the help of computers, it is possible to consider many possible options, and not  just one as in the past. In human living, it is also important to have a focus, a model from which we can work when it comes to making the important decisions in our lives. Jesus is the perfect model.

There were occasions when he said “Learn from me.. because I am gentle and humble of heart.” He also said that he was “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Not only through his example, but also in his teaching, we are given some very powerful models to follow, and perhaps there is no better model than the very gospel passage we have just heard this evening, the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus, it must be remembered, was speaking to real people, and they were people whose lives were far from easy. They lived in their own country, but the authorities had come from Rome. It was already a case where they were “poor in spirit;” there were many instances when they had to console an comfort other people in the community, when they had to remain silent when they would have wanted to speak up loudly about the situation which in many instances was unjust.

These people wanted something different, they wanted things to change. They did not just want a different group of people in charge. They wanted people who went about things differently, placing an emphasis on the building of the community, on reconciliation and on a genuine change of heart.

Over the years, at Larmenier Catholic School, there has been the constant focus on preparing students and families to be different, to be capable of making a change and to stand up for the rights of all people. I noticed that the original idea for the computer centre came from contact with an Aboriginal school in Alicurung, a small town in the Northern Territory. Further contact was made subsequently, and of course, in each of our Catholic schools, we try to place great emphasis on the importance of the indigenous culture and background of  the students currently attending our schools.

Tonight is a precious opportunity for us to give thanks for now 50 years of the life of Larmenier Catholic Primary School. It is an occasion to reflect on the past, to enjoy the present, and to re-affirm our commitment to a strong future, where the dignity and value of each student is paramount, and where the message of Jesus, Our Model, is the best and indeed the only guide we need.