Sunday 1 April 2012
By Matthew WilliamsDirector of Mission and Ministry, Parade College
Don't think—do something.
These were the words that coach John Kennedy passionately delivered to his Hawthorn players at half-time in the 1975 VFL Grand Final. The Christian Brothers have a similar expression: Facta, Non Verba; meaning Deeds, Not Words.
At Parade College, Melbourne, the largest and oldest Christian Brothers school in the southern hemisphere, it is all about living out passionately the charism of the founder of the Christian Brothers, Blessed Edmund Rice, a down-to-earth visionary who acted justly, loved tenderly and walked humbly.
I have taught in Catholic schools, overseas, interstate and under different religious orders in Melbourne. I have had involvement with the charism of Edmund Rice in many ways; through my own schooling, being involved in Eddie Rice (camps for the less fortunate) and teaching in Edmund Rice schools. I could be biased, but I am yet to see another religious order do the 'don't think, do something' cry as well.
Already by February, a month into the academic year at Parade College, I have experienced several real examples of 'doing something' that would fill many other schools' whole year.
At a ministry retreat Year 12 students determined to give two days a week to lend a hand to soup vans in some of Melbourne's most interesting suburbs. The students also devised a program to visit and provide company at disability and mental-health centres. A staggering 250 Year 12 students will participate in this initiative during 2012—the size of some schools.
Student comments that I heard after a ministry retreat include:
"Real eye opener. Loved the experience. What I think being in a Catholic school is all about" (Matt).
"Pretty unlikely that I would normally volunteer for this type of thing. Am thinking about volunteering on a soup van out of school" (Joe).
There is also the Brekky Van. A team of students and staff roll up their sleeves at 6:45 every Tuesday morning during term time to cook breakfast for members of the local West Heidelberg/Olympic Village community who may otherwise go without. The Brekky Van program won the 2007 Whittlesea Leader School Community Award.
And then there has been the refugee tutoring at the Edmund Rice Centre in St Albans. Students from middle and senior levels volunteer on a weekly basis to spend a couple of hours after school tutoring refugee students from the western suburbs and helping them with their English.
These are just a few examples.
The legacy of the Irishman, Edmund Rice, has been around a while, longer even than the oldest AFL club—Melbourne Football Club, founded in 1859. This year marks the 250th anniversary of Edmund Rice's birth. To have a legacy that is still passionately lived out day after day at a college of 2000 boys is testament to the mission of the Christian Brothers, and the staff and students that fill Edmund Rice schools such as Parade College, not just in Melbourne but worldwide.
Edmund Rice would be proud.
Photo: Parade College staff cooking up a storm on Shrove Tuesday while supporting Project Compassion. Photo supplied by Parade College.