2015 End of Year address

As we come to the close of 2015 we have much to be grateful for and much to reflect upon. The opening of MacKillop house has enabled the College to grow to two hundred students and the impact of so many new faces at the College has been life giving to our community.

It also means that the College now has ten House groups, with two associated with the new building (MacKillop and Marian) and two with name changes – the Upper Beovich and Upper Hannan Houses are now known as the Roma and Catherine Houses, named after a prominent Catholic; Adelaide Governor and High Court Judge Roma Mitchell, and Dominican Saint, Catherine of Siena.

These Houses vie for an inter-house trophy, named in honour of the late Lawrie Smart. Lawrie sadly passed away last October after a lifetime of service in the field of dentistry and commitment to Aquinas College. He was a first day student at the College, a former Student President and a long-serving Chair of the College Council. He was named in this year’s Australia Day Honours’ list and was feted at the Aquinas Gala Dinner, last June.

In preparation for the recent farewell of students at the College I discovered a You Tube video clip of a Professor Randy Pausch who was giving the valedictory address to his students. He didn’t speak for long as he was quite weak. He was dying of pancreatic cancer.

The Professor had been a very successful student and lecturer and had done well in many aspects of his life. He was speaking from a context that he had achieved many things in his life. A child of the 1960’s, he had fulfilled many of his life-long dreams.

After congratulating his students on their achievements, and wishing them well for their futures, he finished with a statement that I believe is one of the great learnings of life.

The Professor told his students that no matter how well they do in their chosen profession, no matter how much wealth and good things that they acquire, the most important thing in their lives is to find their passion in life and to follow it.

He went on to say that they will not find that passion in things or money, but it will be found in the people that mean the most to them; the quality of their relationships with those that they care about.

In a nutshell, he said something which we all know to be true; relationships are far more important than possessions.

When he finished his speech, he walked across to his wife and embraced her. The clip concluded on the note that the professor died 68 days later and no doubt the love of his wife, his three children, his family and friends, and his faith, sustained him in that final journey, far more than any wealth that he had accumulated.

Whether our students are finishing their time at Aquinas this year, or sometime in the future, this message is an eternal truth. Hopefully they have made friends here that they will keep for the rest of their lives. Likewise, I hope that they have learnt many new life skills here that will sustain them into the future.

Aquinas relies on people on people of generosity and good will and I wish to thank all members of the College for what you contribute to our community; staff, students, parents, Council members, and alumni.

Aquinas is not about buildings – although some tell me that it has one of the more notable addresses in Adelaide – but it is about people and how they get along, helping each other to reach their goals.

To those students who are finishing their time with us, thank you for what you have contributed to our College; in whatever direction life takes you, you will always have a connection to Aquinas College.

We wish you every happiness and success in your future endeavours and remember the Professor’s advice; the quality of your relationships is far more important than the gathering of possessions.

If you live the basic Christian message of service to others, and you accept in faith that you are truly loved by God, then no matter what challenges, disappointments or joys come your way, you will be well-grounded and live fulfilled and contented lives.  Our best wishes go with you.

Br Paul Gilchrist

Head of College

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