From the Principal

Last Friday, the College celebrated Father’s Day with Mass and Breakfast. I take this opportunity to thank the many fathers, grandfathers and other significant males in the lives of our boys and the boys who joined us for this wonderful gathering. Whilst we can become a little cynical about days like Father’s Day and the commercialism of it, if we take the time to reflect on the importance of fathers and other significant males in our lives, it can become a very uplifting occasion. I hope that by attending the Mass and Breakfast, all us were encouraged to reflect on Father’s Day and its importance to you. I would also like to thank the many people who contributed to bringing the Mass and Breakfast to fruition. Fr Frank Bertagnolli for celebrating the Mass, Mrs Sarah Roberts and Mrs Nadia Knight for preparing the Mass, Mrs Michelle Collins, Ms Suzie McErvale, Miss Nikita Rodrigues and Miss Leah Karam for arranging the formalities. A special thank you to the Parents’ Association mums for preparing the breakfast, the maintenance team for setting up and everyone who contributed to the morning.

Father’s Day is a day when we reflect on the importance of the role of our fathers or other significant males in our lives. It’s the day of the year when men stereotypically receive a pair of socks or jocks, a shirt or a bad tie, however, if this is all it is, then we have missed the point. Fathers, for the most part, don’t want or expect much, most are satisfied with the knowledge that they are loved and respected by their children.

Father’s Day is very special to me. Although receiving gifts is fun, it is never the thing I look forward to most. The two things I do focus on are; how fortunate I am to be blessed with three beautiful children, and that being a dad is the most important job that I’ll ever have. A job that neither I, or any father, ever received formal training for, a job where there is no retirement age, a job we will never master, but a job that brings the greatest of joys, the deepest of learnings, a job that defines who we are.

As fathers, I believe our job is to make family our greatest priority. Our children should never have a moment’s uncertainty about whether they are loved, that they are believed in, whether they are supported, or whether they belong. These are the great responsibilities of fatherhood.

I also believe that as fathers we should never lose sight of the things we can learn from our kids. The influence our children can have on their parents is widely under-rated. I know that I’m continuing to learn and change through my kids every day. I think parents spend twenty years raising their kids, and about half-way through that process, the kids start raising their parents as well. In the end, everyone is better off – the older generation passes on its wisdom to the young, and the younger generation keeps us in touch, keeps us young.

After enjoying the privilege of attending the Father’s Day Mass last Friday, with over two hundred fathers, sons and grandfathers, I reflected on how fortunate I am to belong to a community like the one we share here at Salesian College, Chadstone. This lead me to do some reading to help me to put into words an aspect we have at this College that we should never take for granted. One article in particular helped me organize my thoughts. An article by David M. Chavis & Kien Lee from the Stanford Social innovation review (May 12, 2015) helped me to put into words my thoughts to share about our community.

They suggested that the word ‘community’ is so easy to say, a word most of us connect with, we understand its meaning without ever unpacking it or defining it. The word describes a common experience we have all shared at some point. It seems so simple, so natural, and so human. It’s a word we often use in positive contexts, examples such as community health, community policing, ‘what a great community’, all have positive connotations.

They also argue, however, that the meaning of community is complex, and, unfortunately, insufficient understanding of what a community is and its role in the lives of the members of a community can lead to the downfall or destruction of the very community we are trying to build up.

Understanding that community is about people, that it is not a place, a building, or an organization; nor is it an exchange of information over the Internet is vital if we wish to maintain our community. Community is both a feeling and a set of relationships among people. People form and maintain communities to meet common needs. Members of a community have a sense of trust, belonging, safety, and caring for each other built up over a long period of time. They have an individual and collective sense that they can, as part of that community, influence their environments and each other.

They share that treasured feeling of community out of shared experiences and a sense of (not necessarily the actual experience of) a shared history. As a result, people know who is and isn’t part of their community.

Communities such as ours form institutions, a set of expectations or rules to more effectively fulfill the needs of the individuals in the community. An equally important aspect of the community are the informal institutions, such as the social or cultural networks of helpers and leaders. For example, in our setting, our Parents’ Association, the College Advisory Council. Communities are built to satisfy our desire for that sense of trust, belonging, safety, and caring for each other.

A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role.
- Yehuda Berg

Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.
- Marian Wright Edelman

In order to survive, a plurality of true communities would require not egalitarianism and tolerance, but knowledge, an understanding of the necessity of local differences, and respect. Respect, I think, always implies imagination – the ability to see one another, across our inevitable differences, as living souls.

We look forward to next week with great anticipation. Our Don Bosco Oratory Week provides our community the opportunity to come together to celebrate our history and those who have gone before us, who we are as members of the Salesian College Community, and what it means to be a part of a vibrant, living, learning and growing community.

Our boys will participate in staff/student activities, will enjoy international food, will walk as a group to raise funds for the Salesian Missions, attend and present music performances, attend community knowledge sessions and participate in a trivia competition, all culminating in our Salesian Festival Day Mass and Omnia Award presentation.

As the leader of such a community, I sit back with a great deal of pride and bask in the knowledge that we are going a long way towards meeting our mission of revealing the good news to all in the community.

God Bless,

Robert Brennan