Hope and faith

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is how I am enjoying being Principal. Being Principal of CBC Fremantle is an honour that no hyperbole can do justice, but privately I am often racked with doubt about my ability to do the job.

The job of Principal can be bittersweet. For all the joy I can bring to informing someone they have been successful in obtaining a position at the College, there will be an occasion when I may have to terminate someone's employment. For the uplifting moments at an enrolment interview when I tell a young man and his family that he is now a member of CBC, there is the heavy burden and shared sadness when I ask a young man to leave. For the moments when a member of our community lets me know how appreciative they are of what the College has done for them or their son, I have to sometimes face a member of our community who is never satisfied.

Most of my Principal colleagues face similar issues and seem better adapted to the snakes and ladders game of being head of a school. They describe the positive moments as far outweighing the negative ones, and so on balance remain very upbeat about the job. Unfortunately, I have a flaw in my personality. I have spoken at length on many occasions about the loss of my mother; It is a loss I have never been able to recover from. I repeat this part of my life for three reasons. The first is it helps me to keep her memory alive. The second is that, by sharing my sorrow with you, some of my grief is unburdened. However, the most important reason is that I want you all to appreciate your mothers and grandmothers while you still have them. I don't want you to completely value the women in your lives once they've gone. Love and appreciate them tenderly and joyously every day.

My pain wasn't just the fact that I lost my mother, it was the fact that no-one filled the nurturing breach. As one of my political heroes once said, the nurturing love from a mother and grandmother can became a person's "asbestos suit". Instead of an asbestos suit, I ended up with a feeling of abandonment, and what that has done is create in me an unhealthy need to please others. As a result, my default is to try and please, and through pleasing I do not build a bank of positivity to off-set the occasional bad experiences. It doesn't take much sometimes for me to be so down that I pull out the superannuation figures that night just to see whether I can parachute from the workforce and spend each day playing golf.

So, you may be asking, what keeps you here? The answer is hope and faith. Hope and faith, prayer and contemplation help me reconcile all my disappointments. Hope that tomorrow will be better, and faith that God has my back and a plan much bigger than my selfish needs. Throw in a few moments with my grandchildren, and I am refreshed, cleansed of self-doubt and ready again to take on the world.

And yet despite the importance hope and faith play in my life, I rarely hear it articulated as a reason parents use for sending their son to a Catholic school. I could count on the fingers of one hand how many of the 150 enrolment interviews I have just completed where hope and faith garnered a mention. This is not a criticism, all the reasons given are wonderful in themselves, but it appears that hope and faith are missing a little bit in modern life.

One element of society where hope and faith is very evident is on death row in the United States. The number of condemned people who find God in their final moments, and through God find hope and peace, is astonishing. What perplexes me is why it took looking into the finality of their lives to come to this point. How would their lives, and the lives of their victims and all the families, have been different had they found God much earlier.

Today we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord. For many of you this celebration will just be an event and I challenge all of you to make it much more. I challenge you to do good, and in doing so, come closer to God. Faith helps guide behaviour. Our motto 'Palma Virtuti' is ideal, but we are human and frail and sometimes need extra incentive to be good. Faith helps me believe that there will be an ultimate judgement made about my life and encourages me to make sure when that moment comes, my life can be defined by a preponderance of good outweighing my fallibility. Hope helps me to make sense of tragedy, disappointment and the events that sometimes leave me wondering. Faith and hope keep me sane and help me fully appreciate joy.

A few years ago I watched a Ricky Gervais movie called 'The Invention of Lying'. Some of my colleagues felt it was a criticism of religion but I viewed it differently. This movie juxtaposed a society immersed in total secular truth, without hope and faith, and one that was underpinned by those same two elements. The first was drab, grey, and depressingly mundane. The second was exciting, eliciting questions and curiosity and most importantly focusing on more than 'an eternity of nothingness' once this life ends.

Christ died so that we can have eternal life. In His resurrection He gave hope to His disciples and strengthened their faith. During this Easter, spare a moment of time to ponder. Do you have hope, and if so, what are your hopes, dreams and aspirations? Do you have faith, and if you are not quite there on your journey, consider the downside of living a life that is not based on goodness and Gospel Values. One day, and I hope it never happens, you may need some divine intervention. At that moment, whatever your trials, it is my belief that they will be tempered by two things … hope and faith.

Mr Domenic Burgio
Principal