Year 12 Valedictory Mass and Dinner Speech - 12 November 2019
On such an historic occasion as this, the achievement of a significant milestone, celebrating the culmination of thirteen years of education, I take this opportunity to say a few words to acknowledge the St Edmund’s College Graduating Class of 2019.
History has followed you since the year you were born which were the immediate years following the new millennium - 2001 and 2002.
Who was the Prime Minister of Australia at that time? - John Howard.
How many Australian Prime Ministers have there been since? Six – Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.
Who was our Queensland Premier back then? – Peter Beattie. John Howard would go on to be our second longest serving Prime Minister since Federation – twelve years, four terms. Peter Beattie would go on to serve ten years as Queensland Premier, the fourth longest for a Queensland Premier.
You were born into a time of relative stability and confidence in our political leaders which is so different from our current times.
And which of these movies hit the cinemas at the same time when you entered the world? - Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring and Shrek. All of them. And despite their overwhelming popularity at the time, I’m surprised that we do not have boys named Albus Dumbledore, Frodo or Lord Farquaad.
All these popular movies at the time took us to places of fantasy and fiction where likeable characters, surrounded by trusted friends, did heroic things. With friends by their side they were able to overcome challenges that appeared overwhelming and resist temptations that would lead to ruin. By their actions they restored our faith in the goodness that lies within each of us and our untested capacity to deal with the obstacles that we inevitably encounter in life.
What about some of the sporting highlights around then? Who can forget Steven Bradbury’s last-man-standing heroics to win the speed skating at the 2002 19th Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City. Steven of course was a former guest speaker at our Foundation Dinner a few years ago, so there is a link there with our Eddies community.
Graduation Class of 2019, you were born into a world where the politics, popular culture and sporting events around you promoted
• Trust and confidence in Leadership
• Goodness triumphing over wrongdoing – and the importance of friendship in getting the best out of us...and that
• Anything; however insurmountable, is possible if you can remain standing while others around you are falling down.
In a very real way these features help us to understand you and define who you are as a group. Trustworthy, sticking by your mates to face the challenges that inevitably come your way, and still standing strong while others around you may trip up and fall down. As you are now about to embark on the world as the 2019 Graduates of St Edmund’s College, what can we glean from the politics, popular culture and sporting events of today that may assist you in knowing the world you are entering?
Politically, 2019 was the year of the Australian Federal Election which will become known as the unloseable election that Labor lost, and the now Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison declaring on election night ‘I have always believed in miracles … and tonight we’ve been delivered another'.
In popular culture, the Marvel’s superhero movies have dominated in 2019 with Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel among the top grossing movies. The remake of The Lion King, twenty-five years after the original, also one of the top three contenders.
There is a theme emerging here, because in sport undoubtedly the most significant event in 2019 was the return, after twenty-five years, of the mighty Raiders to the theatre of a Rugby League Grand Final. Though we won’t talk about the result or the ‘six-again’ call.
What can be deduced from these contemporary political, popular culture and sporting highlights that may inform you about the world you are entering in 2019?
• Beware the unloseable challenge – No doubt that is the lesson that former Labor leader Bill Shorten has learnt. When it seems that it’s there for the taking, a shoe-in as we say, that’s when life can dish up some unexpected surprises. But don’t be disheartened, as we know that surprises actually add spice and taste to the banquet of life.
• To use an Avenger metaphor: treasure those six Infinity Stones – those precious gems that, if in the wrong hands like Thanos, can destroy lives and worlds. These are the things that are ours to cherish or, at our peril, to relinquish. They are – power, responsibility, relationships, reputation, health, and the last and most important - soul. These are our ‘infinity stones’ that if left unnurtured, taken for granted or forgotten, will lead ultimately to wayward outcomes; where we may find that we’ve lost our way and purpose in life. Especially, nurture your soul – that inner space where we encounter God.
• Despite the Raiders losing the Grand Final, they got there and showed they were true champions by genuinely congratulating their opponents and not wanting to whinge or complain about decisions that may have gone against them.
These are marvellous take-aways.
My departing words to you tonight, Graduating Class of 2019, echo the sentiments passed on to the former graduands who have walked a similar path since the College was founded in 1892.
Know that from this day forth, like others before, you will:
- Have an in-built bias for blue-and-white – and possibly the lime green
- Never take for granted the motivational power of the two words - OWN IT
- Have a heart for those in the shadows, those who have fallen on tough times and those who have been treated unjustly
- Always be a Chum to your Mum and a Lad to your Dad
- Have an unique appreciation of the importance of brotherhood. Knowing that to be a Brother to Another is a noble and good thing
- Pursue excellence in all endeavours, seek to be challenged, open to learning new skills and hungry for knowledge
- Be a strong man when you are being kind and gentle
- Understand the importance of community and the unique role you have in serving your community
- Feel that you are part of something bigger and that your life has immeasurable worth and dignity
- Know that you have been schooled in a place of faith and glory, where God who made you mighty makes you mightier yet
- Always be a child of the Edmund Rice family, defined by the four Touchstones of Liberating Education, Gospel Spirituality, Inclusive Community and Justice and Solidarity
- Live your life with an unrelenting belief that - You can because you see you can.
Congratulations St Edmund’s College, Ipswich Graduating Class of 2019.
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Vale Seniors of 2019
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Diarmuid O’Riordan, Principal