From the Principal

Welcome back to the final term for the 2014 School Year, I hope you all had a restful and enjoyable holiday and are now looking forward to a productive end to the year. I look forward with anticipation to the last term as Term Four always provides a number of positive events and celebrations as we mark the completion of the school year for the different year levels. In particular I look forward to our major celebrations farewelling the Class of 2014. We have already had one such celebration on Tuesday evening with the annual Salesian College Chadstone Expo. The evening provides all in the community a chance to observe the work our boys do on a daily basis and to reflect on the achievements of the years. The joy comes from being able to share the boy’s work with their parents as well as families who may join us in coming years.

We welcome back Ms Jessica Saya and Mrs Melina Barcellona from their tour of Italy with a number of our boys. All reports indicate the trip was a great success, all enjoyed themselves and the boys represented the College with distinction. The College thanks them both for giving up their holidays to provide this wonderful educational opportunity for the boys.

The next three weeks are a significant time for our Year 12 students as they make final preparations for their upcoming exams. I encourage them to focus on the advice of their teachers and they use their time wisely making the best use of the resources available to them. I encourage parents to work with their sons to keep them on track and not to lose focus with all the other distractions that are placed in front of them at this time of the year. Celebrations should be put on hold until after their last exam.

With this in mind I want to share with you a very interesting clip I had the privilege of watching on YouTube during the week which highlighted the thoughts of world renowned German philosopher, Martin Heidegger. Whilst I did not agree with all of which Heidegger contemplated, I did think it was worth sharing some of his thoughts. The main concept of the clip was reflecting on our existence here on earth and what it all means. Heidegger proposed that in our existence we are surrounded by non-existence or death and that we busy ourselves in order to ignore this reality. He referred to death as Das Nichts, the nothing. Whilst I would strongly challenge this point because of my belief in an eternal life, a life greater and more rewarding to our existence on earth, a life won for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ I did not want this point of disagreement to take me away from the other wonderful points he made.

It was in his thoughts on our existence in which I felt there was a real message for us to ponder, one that sits well within our Catholic tradition. He referred to living or existing as Das Sein, and spoke of the fragility of that existence. He made the point that we needed to make a conscious decision to live our lives to the fullest and embrace the fragility of that existence as it is only when we do this that we can uncover the mysteries of being. By waking up to the fragility of our lives and discovering the mystery of existence that we come to understand the intrinsic links or connections we have to other living things and creation.

Heidegger argues that we avoid embracing our existence by allowing ourselves to be surrounded by endless chatter or the white noise of life. This endless chatter comes to us via the air waves, the media, through our social circles and social media. He uses the analogy of this endless chatter being a thick dough layer that convinces us that the trivia in our lives is important and this covers our real or authentic being and prevents us from connecting with the world around us. He encourages us to rid ourselves of this layer of dough so that people can encounter the authentic individual we are.

As we enter into an extended silly season that our society demands us to have, we reflect on these thoughts so as we always remain authentic to those around us. In schools the silly season does not only refer to the festive season, as the end of the school year can also fall into this category if we allow it to. Whilst we encourage the boys on a daily basis to study hard and place pressure on them to do their very best combined with the endless chatter of exams, study, finishing and celebrations, this should not give them the excuse of allowing all of these things for them to become inauthentic. Students need to keep their lives in perspective, working hard does not give any one permission to be rude or obnoxious, it does not mean that family and friends should cease to exist for the next month and it certainly shouldn’t mean that any sense of joy is put on hold for the next month or so. In fact in their best interest it is important that they ensure that their connectedness with those around them remains, as it is likely that it will be these connections which will provide the greatest support and sanity at this crazy time. I also encourage them to embrace the intensity of their existence at this time as it will be an appreciation of what they have done which will give them the greatest sense of satisfaction and joy when they reap the rewards of their labours.

I wish our students well in the coming weeks and remind them that we are right behind them and that they go with God’s blessing.

Robert Brennan