Dear Parents, Carers and Friends of Villanova
This week we began our school academic year with the official commissioning of Seniors and College liturgy. While this is normally a whole of school eucharistic celebration we needed to make adjustments which saw our Year 5 and 12 students in Goold Hall and others in their pastoral rooms with staff. Additionally, we were unable to welcome the broader community of parents to celebrate with us which is both personally and communally disappointing.
On this occasion I was also officially installed as College Principal. As such in this week’s Villa View, I share with you my address to act as a formal introduction to who I am as a leader, educator and what my outlook and hope is for our community and the boys and families within.
Good Morning to our Board Chair, Mr Peter Geraghty, Augustinian Province Leader Fr Peter Jones, College Chaplain and former Rector Fr Peter Wieneke, Board Directors, Parents, Staff, Seniors and students of Villanova College
A moment such as today is a humbling experience. The opportunity to lead this community, in particular the boys we care for, guide, educate and form in the Augustinian tradition is truly an honour. In being the third lay Principal of the College, in this its 73rd year, there is a need to ensure that at this juncture of history, where the number of active Augustinians in the Australian community dwindles, that a core outcome of my tenure is to ensure that the characteristics of an Augustinian education, and the identity of an Augustinian school stays strong. It is important that when people enter our College there is an unmistakable sense that we are a Catholic school in the Augustinian tradition. That through experiencing interactions and relationships with our staff and young men there is a clear characteristic that says, “this place is different, its special”.
As such, gentlemen of Villanova, in my commitment to you in taking on this role there is for you an inherent challenge when you put on the green and gold. To live the values in your actions everyday – particularly to our Seniors in this their final year.
Allow Humility to temper your successes. As you present yourself, your skills, talents and achievements to the world; do so in the name of service, in the name of the common good. In the hope that through your interactions, influence and relationships the community in which you interact is richer for what you have shared and offered.
Encourage in yourself a want and desire, a drive even, understand your thoughts, choices and actions. Take time to reflect on yourself and the world around you. To contemplate and question the world in which you live and the ‘why?’ of how we interact and behaviour with one another. Dare I say to be ‘interior’. In doing so allow love to grow in your hearts to open the door to understanding and building meaning in the world around you. In the simplest of terms through developing knowledge and wisdom grow character. In the words of St Augustine “In order to discover the character of people we have only to observe what they love.”
Build and cherish community. In your learning collaborate, in your teaching collaborate. Build a shared story of learning, of understanding, of interdependence, of questioning and posing problems and cooperating to create solution. Let this in itself be a symbol of success. That the creation of meaningful and fulfilling relationships are a passage to happiness. A pathway to Christ and the kingdom. We are through Christ given many gifts and talents for us to develop, to show the world celebrate and grow. What for if not for community? In the St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre, we can take again from Augustine’s teaching. “God provides the wind; Man must raise the sail”. In our community you are each challenged to develop your talents to benefit others. To become your best to encourage the best in those around you and to then grow toward wisdom together and toward relationship with God.
Each day in our studies and application we should never be satisfied that we are complete. That we are at the end of the learning journey. That as young people, and older people we are constantly on a journey of discovery. We understand that the search for truth is long, unending and difficult. It is indeed restless.
Riley, College leaders and Seniors as I said to you on Tuesday at the Senior Tie presentation, your white shirt and tie are merely symbols. Your actions this year give those symbols meaning. It is your choice as a cohort to ensure that the white shirt and senior tie mean respect, mean brotherhood, mean care for others, mean diligence, mean support, mean integrity, trust and honour. You give that meaning through your actions, and their consistency every day. Excellence is a daily companion not a lonely soldier!
To staff I hope to bring energy, renewal, and a different perspective. To challenge you and ask the questions why? To have you continue your own growth as a Catholic educator and the richness of that identity as you interact and share story with our boys. One of the great fortunes of being new to an organisation is to come with new perspectives, new ideas. Not always to change, or suggest that new ways are right ways, but to provide a window to look through and see new possibilities rather than a mirror that merely reflects back what we already know.
To parents I hope that I can bring to you community and partnership. To respect and grow the covenant that we share as we agree to bond together for the education; intellectual, physical spiritual and cultural of your boy. To help walk beside him on that journey to manhood. To be present with him, and you in the growth through adolescence. A Villanova education embraces the nature of the “village” – Villa Nova – new village. We are the village in which we provide support to you as you raise your child. That we is not only myself, pastoral leaders, staff, coaches, it encompasses the parent community itself and the students. We engage the wisdom and energy of the collective, combined with our faith and shape the sons of Villanova.
To our College board and the Augustinian province I thank you for this opportunity. For you I offer and grow myself and my talents in the hope that I lead the College in faithful respect of the past and with dedicated enthusiasm toward a future of outstanding possibility. I will in my role Dream, Dare and Do. Dream of what may be of our Future, Dare to move toward what might be rather than what is and to Do the work required every day, to ensure our boys growth, learning and success.
I walk forward from today with a commitment toward improvement, to uncovering more of myself and leadership, to consider further the possibilities for Villanova, its students, staff, and community. While I am honoured to begin in this role, I am not content. I am challenged to ensure that my search for truth remains strong and active and that I am committed to my own ongoing conversion and that of the College. To allow Augustine to conclude I would share . . .
“If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.”
As such that is my pledge of leadership, to keep adding, to keep walking, to keep advancing, for the community of boys, old boys, parents and staff because my heart is restless, and it will remain restless until it rests in Christ.
I am sincerely looking forward to meeting you all and turning this pledge into tangible actions and the ever-growing story of Villanova.
The Villa View newsletter will be moving from a weekly to fortnightly publication. On weeks when the Villa View is not published, a sports bulletin will be made available through the same channels as the Villa View.
Principal, Mr Paul Begg
In keeping with the spirit of Reconciliation, Villanova College acknowledges the Yuggera and Turrbal peoples, as the Traditional Custodians of this land on which we stand. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. This has always been, and always will be, a place of teaching and learning connected to country, culture and community.