St Augustine once wrote ‘Late have I loved you, o beauty, ever ancient ever new’. It is these words that have inspired our 2018 College theme. The words ‘Ever ancient, Ever new’ will also be the title of the history book that will be launched in May to mark our parish’s 140th birthday. When St Augustine wrote these words he was thinking about the beauty of God which can been found in both the past, present and future. This year we are invited to ‘be surprised' by the beauty of story, youth and ideas. We are called to discover where the creative energy of God is to be a transforming force in our growth as individuals, a College, and a parish as we treasure the ever ancient and become ever new.
Everyone loves a story and we all have a story. This year we will tell many stories of the past and no doubt we will think about how things used to be at our school. These stories tell us about the heart and soul of our school – the things which matter to us. These stories help us to be grateful, to understand the idea of legacy and to know our identity. Our students are privileged to be a part of this story. They should be proud to say ‘I went to St Augustine’s College’. That is their story. Our collective story can not just be in the past, we need to make the story ever new. We all have the power to author our own story both individually and as a College community. I hope our students will create a story they want to be proud of this year. A story that they want to wake up to each day and be keen to tell. And when we get to the end of the year we all want to be able to say ‘remember when……’ and that way we will add our part to the chapters of the history of our College and parish.
The second way we are invited to make things ‘ever new’ is by being surprised at the amazing energy, power and potential of young people. We are surrounded by an extraordinary creative force every day as we live and learn with over 700 young people. I wonder if we recognise the beauty of this? I wonder if we recognise the power of this? I truly believe that the most under-utilised resource for improvement in our College community is the students. In October this year Pope Francis will hold a meeting in Rome because he wants to hear the voice and thoughts of our young people. In Australia, our Church is celebrating the Year of Youth. Our young people are already actively participating in groups, clubs and activities outside of school. Research tells us that young people who have an active role in school are more engaged, feel better about their learning and achieve better outcomes. This year we want to embrace the beauty and power of youth and promote student voice and action. We need our students to take an active role - to say yes! There are a number of different actions we will be taking this year to give students a greater chance to be involved and bring their voice to learning and decision making. How might we encourage our youth to embrace opportunities and not just sit back and let the year pass by? Our student leaders are excited about their dreams for the year but they can’t do it alone - they need our students, the youth of our community to make it happen.
And finally let’s consider the notion of ideas. Learning is all about ideas. As we learn this year we hope that we will be surprised by the beauty of ideas. There is a magic to be found in ideas if we are ready to be open to them. What ideas do you love? What new ideas have surprised you? Our imagination empowers us to create and recreate ideas. Our imagination is a gift from God who fills us with the capacity for endless possibilities. We need staff, students and families who will use their imagination to bring new ideas to our school and our world. We are ready to be surprised by the ideas you bring. Then, what if we took a love of learning, our imaginative powers and a curiosity for ideas and focused that into becoming the best school we could be. Surely it would create an energy that could produce amazing results for all in terms of learning, wellbeing and engagement. Surely it would bring us together as a community of human flourishing and learning for life.
Our theme for 2018 challenges us to pause, reflect and move forward. It challenges us to be open to the God of surprise. It is a theme of action, of hope, of renewal, of growth and of the beauty of life reflected in the young people we seek to serve each day. I wish students, staff and families every blessing as together we celebrate the ‘ever ancient and ever new’.