2016 End of Year Address

Dear Friends of Aquinas College,

The 2016 Aquinas Valete dinner acknowledged and farewelled nineteen students who will soon graduate in a wide range of fields, including; Primary and Secondary Teaching, Psychology, Science,  Physiotherapy, Nursing and Midwifery, Business and Commerce,  Medical and Health Science,  Human Movement, and Veterinary and Paramedic Science.

It was a delightful occasion when family, friends and peers warmly congratulated these students on their achievements and wished them well for their future endeavours.

Completing a degree requires intelligence, organisation, hard work, and perseverance, besides a focussed commitment for at least three, and often more, years of intensive study. There is obviously a great amount of personal satisfaction when the last assignment is submitted and the last examination is finished.

Hopefully, their time at Aquinas has given these students the skills and confidence to now put themselves forward for a place in the workforce. Whatever awaits them, however, they can be sure that their journey will be filled with twists and turns.  There will be great successes, memorable achievements, unexpected set-backs and times of disappointment. In this plethora of human experiences that life serves up, they will need to be strong and resilient, especially in the face of adversity and trials.

At various gatherings during this last semester, the students have been encouraged to have goals, to never give up on their dreams, to stay resilient and determined, and to tackle new adventures and endeavours with passion and effort.

They have been reminded about making good choices and treating others with dignity and kindness; a smile, a kind gesture, and an encouraging word can mean so much.

Life is full of choices and our responses can determine our well-being:

  • Will I drift along with the flow or will I follow my own passions and beliefs?
  • Will I choose the easier path rather than one of service to others?
  • Will I play it safe or be a bit daring?
  • Will I shrink under criticism or will I follow my convictions?
  • Will I give up when it’s tough, or will I persevere?
  • Will I bluff it out or will I admit my mistake and apologise?
  • Will I stand up for things that are important to me or will I walk away?

There are no easy answers to these questions. Things are never really black or white, and life is full of compromises. Sometimes, we need to give up our preferred position, surrendering to what is for the common good.

Happiness doesn’t mean the same to everyone; however one thing is abundantly clear. Positive relationships with other people can be the most determining factor on the quality of one’s life; much more than money and material goods. People who feel well-liked, accepted and respected by others, tend to be happier.

Of course, financial security can make life easier, but not enough to rate it above a satisfying family life. The friends that our students have made at Aquinas and at University will be important links in these first steps into the world of work, and in the years ahead.

To those students who are now moving on, the Aquinas community thanks you whole heartedly for what you have given to us. Our wish for you is that you will live fulfilled and contented lives and that you will share your considerable talents with the wider community. Whatever service you provide for others, you will receive back in kind, many times over.

Glen Campbell’s folksy song, “Try a Little Kindness” provides some good advice as you take the next step in your journey:

If you see your brother standing by the road, with heavy load from the seeds he sowed,

And if you see your sister falling by the way, just stop and say,’ you’re goin’ the wrong way’

You’ve got to try a little kind kindness, yes show a little kindness

Yes shine your light for everyone to see…[1]

Aquinas College relies on people of goodwill and generosity. It is built on generations of good people, just like you. May you leave us with life-long friends and happy memories, and may God bless you and all your loved ones.


Br Paul Gilchrist

Head of College

[1] ‘Try a Little Kindness’ written by Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin, sung by Glen Campbell. Released Capitol Records 2659, October 1969

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