As the end of the year draws to a close, with all the attendant celebrations and enjoyment, I would like to thank all in the De La Salle community for another wonderful year.
I will not attempt to summarise here all the events, programs and activities of 2017, but I must say once again, for so very many reasons, this is a terrific environment for all our staff, students and parents to work together. In so many ways, all we do and all we aspire to is underpinned by our Catholic identity and our Lasallian charism. This has once again provided a reliable platform for our academic, spiritual, social and co‐curricular endeavours.
While 2017 has seen a vast range of initiatives, developments and improvements aimed fairly and squarely at improving students’ learning and wellbeing there is even more to look forward to in 2018. A variety of teams within the staff continue to collaborate to design and implement strategies and programs to build in our students the motivation, independence, resilience and most importantly, the skills required for success in all elements of their school experience.
At this time of year, we traditionally say farewell to a range of staff who are either moving on to opportunities in other schools, concluding replacement contracts or retiring.
Ms Kerrie Jordan, Director of Finance and Administration, will be leaving us mid‐January as she has been accepted for a voluntary position at a hospital in Tanzania for 2018 – our Lasallian ethos has obviously rubbed off! Kerrie has been a valued member of our College Board and Executive Team, taking a leading role in the Master Plan process, managing the College Finances and the administration of the non‐teaching staff in the College amongst myriad other duties.
I would like to thank and acknowledge the following staff for their contribution to the College, some for a term or two and others for over twenty years.
- Ms Nicola Mairs
- Mr Matthew Morris
- Mr Ken McAlpine
- Mr Lachlan McKenzie
- Mrs Gemma Austin
- Mr Paul Fegan
- Ms Marisa Di Giacamo
- Ms Emily Scott
- Ms Patricia Burke
- Ms Marg McPhee
- Mr Tim Brodrick
- Mrs Katherine Aldcroft
- Mr Noel Patterson
- Ms Jane Robertson
- Mrs Mary Finn
- Mr Daniel Van Bergen
- Ms Rose Connolly
- Mr Heath Tregear
- Ms Amanda Wallace
While it is obviously difficult for me to commemorate these individuals’ contributions in this space, it is important to acknowledge the gifts each of them has brought to our Lasallian community in their respective roles. They have provided a wonderful contribution via their teaching, music or administration – some through decades of service — to the Lasallian ethos and of course to the young men with whom they worked so closely and passionately. I thank you all for your contributions and wish you the very best in wherever your next journey takes you.
Ms Haylene Peipert is taking 2018 off to travel, we wish Haylene well and look forward to her return in 2019. Ms Kate McIlroy is commencing parental leave at the end of the year, we wish her all the best for the impending birth.
We are now in the season of Advent leading up to Christmas, traditionally a very happy time of year, full of hope and generosity of spirit. It is my hope and prayer that each of you can reflect on your year, be content with your life and feel you can approach Christmas and the holidays in a positive frame of mind. As Catholics, we are focused on the importance of hope during this liturgical season dedicated to preparing for Christmas. Advent offers us the opportunity to rediscover the beauty of being together during the weeks leading up to Christmas, so keep that in mind and enjoy the time of hope and promise with your family as you prepare for Christmas Day.
Speaking of hope, I have just returned from a few days in Sri Lanka, visiting the Year 12s on their Yaluwo social justice immersion at Diyagala Boys Town, a Lasallian boarding school in a poor area on the outskirts of Colombo. The 150 boys at this technical training school are from impoverished, underprivileged and often broken homes and the De La Salle Brothers provide education, training and employment for them – an inspiring story of hope and success.
However, whilst staying with the Brothers at Boys Town, they took us to the slums of Colombo where – among the very worst of conditions – another team of De La Salle Brothers run Lasallian Community Education Services. This comprises three schools in an environment so harsh none of us will ever experience the like in our typical Melbourne lives. Where permanent unemployment, drug and alcohol addiction, child abuse and neglect and teenage pregnancy is the norm, most parents have no education and most of their kids either never enrol in school or drop out, the Brothers provide hope and a pathway to a better life.
Space will not permit a more detailed account today but suffice to say in the gloom of these people’s lives — in stark contrast with our happiness in the Advent season in Melbourne — the Brothers do provide genuine hope and an alternative to the cycle of unemployment, addiction and poverty.
In my position I read a lot of information, documents and literature about the role of our Lasallian movement in social justice, the obligation to provide a service to the poor, to seek out the poor and the marginalised in our 21st century community and do something about it. We certainly play our part in Malvern as best we can, but I have never before been so humbled or inspired by the relatively young Sri Lankan Brothers operating Lasallian Community Education Services in an environment so challenging, against odds so overwhelming, we can only really imagine as being our daily place of work. Please think of them and pray for them in the critical and inspiring work these men are devoted to in order to improve the chances of the young in the slums of Colombo.
As you approach Christmas with your friends and family I would ask each of you to bear in mind the real meaning of Christmas and give at least a thought to the very many in our society less fortunate than us, even right here in Melbourne.
Thank you to all in our wonderful community of De La Salle Malvern for your involvement, support and contributions in 2017. It has been terrific working with you all, educating your sons and in partnership making our great college an even better place for all of us.
I wish you all a safe, holy and happy Christmas with family and friends and I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.
Mr Peter Houlihan