Mr Burgio during the foot washing ceremony as part of the College Liturgy for Holy Thursday.

The ultimate sacrifice

At today's Easter Liturgy I told the boys a story that some of you may have heard at a Parent Night or two. The National Service Act 1964, passed on 24 November, required 20 year old males, if selected, to enlist in the Army for a period of 24 months of continuous service (reduced to 18 months in 1971), followed by three years in the Reserve. The Defence Act was amended in May 1965 to provide that conscripts could be obliged to serve overseas, and in March 1966, Prime Minister Holt announced that National Servicemen would be sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army.

As a child during this era, I lived next door to the most quintessential Australian family there could possibly be. Wharfie dad, salt of the earth mum, many children and a couple of foster children. This particular family was famous as being one of the only ones with a television (the famous Astor!) and their lounge room was always full to the brim. One thing that always caught my attention as a young boy was the small shrine that sat on the Astor and the mantlepiece above it. There were several models of aircraft carriers and WWII heavy bombers, but what caught my eye were the several gum bichromate portraits of young men in their military uniform. Over time I found out they were brothers, uncles, great uncles and grandfathers of my neighbours; relatives who had not return from the great conflicts of World Wars I and II, and Korea. The constant reminder of their kin who had made the ultimate sacrifice served as a reference point for everything else that occurred in that family's life. I can still remember being scolded for crying as a result of an insignificant event and being told about 'the soldiers who didn't cry when they etc., etc.'

One particular night that stands out for me involved the ballot. Their third eldest son was eligible for national service, and as a result, Vietnam. The whole family watched with apprehension as one of the marbles drawn was the birthdate of their son and brother. When it was obvious what had just transpired, the mother stoically walked across to the son and said simply, "It's your turn now son, do us proud!"

When I think of families today, I'm not sure the same stoicism and sense of duty would prevail. Sacrifice is something that many families have not endured for decades now. In the 1960s, the World Wars, Great Depression, post-war migration and way of life lent itself to understanding the value of sacrifice. It gave people of that era context and reference. Life could only get better. One of the problems with the times now, in my humble opinion and experience, is that many young people do not really understand sacrifice.

At this time, in our Holiest of Weeks, please spend some time with your sons and remind them that all they have did not fall from the sky. Sacrifices were made by you and your forebears. Together we hope to instill the selflessness in your sons that will enable them to make similar sacrifices into the future. And whilst you are at it, please remind your sons of the significance of this time and the ultimate sacrifice made by our Lord in order for us to be liberated from death.

On behalf of all the staff of CBC Fremantle, have a Happy and Holy Easter in the company of your loved ones and I hope that in their quiet reflection your sons show you their appreciation for the sacrifices you make for them each day.

God Bless.

Mr Domenic Burgio