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On Tuesday 25 October 2017, the Class of 2017 were formally farewelled at the Valete Assembly and Mass. The Assembly featured a farwell speech from our Rector Fr Chris Middleton SJ and a reflection from Year 12 Student Anthony El-Fahkri on his time at Xavier. Exerpts of their speeches can be read below.
Xavier’s education has gone beyond the classroom; it has travelled into social issues and given us all a global conscience. These missions we participate in are beyond a shadow of doubt what has infused this school with the greater glory of God. Missions such as World Challenge, Broome cultural exchange as well as the annual immersions to India, East Timor, Vietnam and Thailand. Xavier education has extended our experience beyond Kew and Brighton.
To teachers, tutors, coaches and mentors: our appreciation is undoubtedly unanimous. You have been tireless in encouraging and guiding us to reach our full potential. We thank you for your efforts. Those emails we receive late at night, the extra mile taken to ensure an understanding exists and even the unity you share with us in singing our school anthem are all indicators that you care, making you more than just teachers, our mentors.
At this time of farewell it is appropriate to thank Xavier for how it has prepared us for life beyond those gates. For some our purpose is to engage in social service, for some to run a business or for some to enter the sporting realm, for others to enter the professions. Whatever our future, our elected paths, Xavier has shown us the importance of bringing the Ignatian vision of service to it all. Xavier hasn’t just focused in academic excellence. After-hour sessions with teachers, one-on-ones with tutors and the efforts of sporting coaches have contributed to shaping whom we have become. Teachers and tutors have helped shape our academic and personal journeys. And for that we thank you.
To our parents, let me quote Gibran’s words on the relationship between parents and their children: ‘Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls.’
That is why you have sent us to Xavier College, so that we can find our own thoughts, desires and future longings. You have allowed us to find a direction by selecting a safe inspirational environment, Xavier. We thank you. We thank you for every prepared lunch, every ironed shirt, every pick-up and drop-off and insightful words. Belief in the vision of the school, belief in us, the physical and emotional nurturing and the sacrifices made. We thank you for pretending that you are totally interested in our sporting activities, our debates, our SACs, and even our Arts.
So, we the boys of 2017 tenderly salute our parents and our teachers, as ‘Lord knows we couldn’t have done it without you.’
The words on the College crest are also words of expectation – Sursum Corda – lift up your hearts. It is a badge of expectation for our Year 12s, and a passport for them as they take their leave of us. My greatest disappointment would be if you left this school without the feeling that much was expected of you – not primarily the expectations of worldly success, but rather expectations of character, of the heart, of the spirit – Nelson Mandela’s words have a real resonance: ‘Your playing small does not serve the world.’ You have so much to give, and to give generously.
Let me affirm again this morning, without any hesitation whatsoever: we take great pride in you. Over your time at the school there have been significant achievements in all areas of school life: these provide the images, the sounds, the actions that together shape our memories of this group of young men, the Class of 2017. There are musicians, actors, sportsmen, debaters and scholars among you. Above all there is an abundance of characters and a depth of character. There are before me 236 young men worthy of the name Xaverian.
And so, finally, to the members of the Class of 2017, face the VCE with confidence; you have been prepared well, and, far more importantly, look forward to your future, trusting in the love of God, generous in life as “men for others”, giving primacy to your relationships, and with a sense of the promise that you carry within you. Have brave hearts, clear consciences and questioning minds.
It has been a genuine pleasure to walk with you in these your school years - to share the various highs and lows, to hear the laughter and occasionally be there for the tears, to know something of the inner story and to share some of the hopes and fears for the future.
Boys, your lives are a gift from God; your education has been one of those gifts. You have received much and given much. Thank you for whom you are and for all that you promise to be.
Fr Chris Middleton SJ