Principal Address: Year 12 Graduation Mass 2016
Mrs Caroline Payne – Principal
Good evening and welcome to our graduates of 2016 who are our guests of honour, Head of Year 12 Simon Messer, your parents and guardians, family members and guests, representing our parish priests, Fr Phuong (St Thomas More Parish), and Fr Nelson Po (Applecross Parish), our College Executive Leadership Team, Vice Principal Karen Prendergast, Deputy Principals Jim Elliott, Frank Italiano and Jean-Paul Papineau, and Manager of Finance and Operations Alan Luks.
Tonight is the second part of a three-step celebration of graduation that commenced with the Year 12 Assembly and breakfast this morning, has been followed by the Graduation Mass and Awards Presentation tonight and will be completed on Sunday with the celebratory Graduation dinner. These celebrations are accentuated by the fact they are family events shared with your teachers, with the staff of Corpus Christi that wish you all the best for the future. Before we acknowledge each of our graduating class and commence the presentation of Awards, I would like to address the young men and women before me, the last time I will address you as your Principal. I acknowledge a former lecturer of mine, Wayne Tinsey, in weaving a story within this address to you, this evening.
As you graduate from Corpus, I hope you have learned something about what s important in life, that you have been given a gift you will be able to take into the future.
From the moment the majority of our Class of 2016 commenced in Year 7 at Corpus Christi, we have emphasised your giftedness, that you are all wonderful gifts to the world! We want you to use these gifts, to embrace the gospel values inherent in our stated College values, to grow to become a Christian who will shape the world in love. We want you to continue to nurture a living faith, to act in justice and service to others, respecting the dignity of each person you encounter in your lives. This isn’t always going to be easy and you will continue to encounter many challenges in your lives. Know that you are not alone.
Very recently, I have learned that my husband of more than 35 years has only a few months to live, news which has been devastating for me and our family. I know many before me have experienced similar losses in their lives. These experiences make you acutely aware of what is important in life, a deeply personal message I would like to share with you tonight.
Despite our imperfections, our failings, how mixed up we sometimes feel, we have the potential within each one of us to be heroes. We become heroes when we accept ourselves as we are, when we live our lives according to our deepest values, when we make our life choices based on these values, when we are true to ourselves as authentic human beings.
Heroism requires us all to find the treasure of our true selves and to share that treasure with the community.
The heroic life does not require us to become something greater than we are. But it does require us to be faithful to our own authentic path. Heroes are those who have given their lives to something bigger than themselves. To do this we must slay the dragon of envy, the dragon of fear to be different, the dragon that tells us that near enough is good enough, the dragon that tells us it s okay to live a copied, superficial, inauthentic life.
Someone wise once said that the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose. But in order to contribute to the world in a most powerful way, we must first come to know who we really are as a human being. Corpus has provided each of you with many and varied experiences for you to be able to know yourself, not only through your academic program, but through the Christian Service learning opportunities, fundraising initiatives and House events, the immersion programs and tours offered, the many and varied extra-curricular activities, and through the Retreats you have experienced, most importantly, through the strong bonds you have formed with friends and with your teachers who have guided you in the past six years. However, living a life of purpose is a life long journey, not just something you do whilst at school. Like your parents, we have provided you with the foundation from which you will build your life as a young adult, to live life to the full and contribute to the world in a most powerful way.
I read a research article on happiness this week. There are actually proven ways to increase happiness. Researchers have found that practicing certain actions, deliberately seeking out positive states of mind, and improving the quality of our relationships can make us happier. These habits require consistent efforts over time: savour your daily experiences, pause to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the moment; get involved in meaningful volunteer activities. Giving to others actually makes us feel happier as is developing a more optimistic point of view, a way to look at your life with appreciation and showing gratitude to others every day can also improve your mood and your health. Focussing on your strengths and achievements rather than being too hard on yourself, meditate or pray to manage stress and regulate your mood. All these characteristics actually stimulate the brain in areas related to happiness! Long lasting happiness is certainly not about earning a high salary, being able to purchase luxurious items, hanging on to material possessions, avoiding friends or family who may be in need.
In fact, at the end of our lives, we will find that the things we thought were the big things were actually the little things, and that all the things we though were the little, unimportant things were actually the big, important ones. Over the past week, I have experienced our daughters spending time with their father, giving thanks for all that he has done for them, for being such a wonderful father. The stories remembered are many snapshots of their lives lived in the moments of each day, the ordinariness of life lived with their father. Despite the sad news, my husband Michael said the last week was actually one of the best weeks of his life, where memories have been shared, appreciation expressed for the love that has so willingly shared, leaving him feeling so proud that he has made a positive difference to their lives. As Christians, we are constantly reminded we that we don’t have to be perfect, just the best we can be. I now understand what this means.
The quality of success we will experience in life depends upon the tiny choices we make every minute of every hour of every day. Only today is certain. We re not guaranteed tomorrow. As you are writing your own story of your life that holds all possibilities for you, certainly, plan for tomorrow, but live an authentic life in the present.
So for tonight, as I address you for the last time, I bid you farewell. And always remember, each of you is special in God s eyes and we ask that you keep the spirit of Corpus Christi College in your hearts. How do you do this? In St Theresa of Calcutta words: Everybody should see kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, and in your warm greeting.
Sequere Dominum, Follow the Lord.
Thank you and God bless.