Principal’s Message: Term 4, Week 4, 2020

To the families and friends of the St Edmund’s community,

Last week we had our formal announcement and presentation of the 2021 student leaders to the College community.  This significant ceremony saw our present leaders “hand over” their portfolios and responsibilities to the new leaders.

Congratulations to the following Year 11 students for earning the confidence of their peers and teachers in being successful for their leadership positions:
College Captain … Baden Godfrey
Vice Captain, Academic … Jack Hodges
Vice Captain, Mission … Eden Mordike
Vice Captain, Service … Max Page
Clancy House Captain …Nick Toze
Clancy Vice Captain …Ethan Papp
Haydon House Captain … Noah Ellis
Haydon Vice Captain … Lachlan Freeman
Mulrooney House Captain … Shenal Rajapakse
Mulrooney Vice Captain … Adam Viali
O’Brien House Captain …Lachlan O’Neil
O’Brien Vice Captain … William Mansfield
Rice House Captain …Leo Blaney Brown
Rice Vice Captain … William Owens
Treacy House Captain …Nicholas Odgers
Treacy Vice Captain … Harry Davis

I would like to share with you the address I gave at this special assembly as it sums up the nature of leadership we foster here at St Edmund’s College:

“Being called to leadership is a privileged and honourable position, whether it be leadership of a sporting team, leadership within a work setting, leadership of a family or leadership in the community.  It is privileged and honourable not because of any power or authority or title that comes with it, but because it means working with people – not for people, not over people, but working with people. As such leadership is all about relationships and community.

 When we think of the Christian nature of leadership, we of course turn our attention to Jesus Christ.  Jesus provides us with a strong model of servant leadership.  When you think of that phrase, “servant leadership”, it initially sounds like something weak.  Servant leadership is anything but weak.  Servant leadership is tough and difficult, but when it is carried out successfully it is leadership that is effective and transformative.  Servant leaders are not preoccupied with personal visibility and recognition.  Servant leaders seek to invest themselves in the lives of their people so that, as a whole, their community is challenged to grow and thrive.  Servant leaders aim to serve others – they do not seek service for themselves; they do not aim to do their own will.

Servant leaders work amongst their people – they are walking alongside their people just as Jesus walked alongside all he came across; refusing nobody’s company and giving the time to those in need.  Just as Blessed Edmund Rice walked amongst his people, very aware of what they needed and worked hard his entire life to ensure that the young marginalised people in Waterford were given an education they deserved.

The religious tradition known as Christianity eventually emerged from the servant leadership of Jesus and his followers.  The movement of Christian Brothers’ schools across the world emerged from the servant leadership of Blessed Edmund Rice and his fellow Christian Brothers. That is why we are all here today.

Servant leadership isn’t about shrinking into the background.  You need to have the strength and determination to shine a light on those around you.  Marianne Williamson is an American author who has written very strongly on the idea that leadership is not about power or authority – powerful leadership is very much working with the people around you and having the courage and capacity to allow them to shine. This is what she says:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”).

A good leader does not lead from the front – if you lead from the front you are blocking the views of others and they cannot see where they are going except for blindly following the leader.  A good leader does not leader from the back – if you lead from the back then you have no vision and cannot give direction to the people you are serving.  Good leaders walk alongside the people they are serving – so everyone has the same view, everyone has the same vision, everyone is on the same path and everyone is bathed in the same light. Leading from the front or the back does not make for vibrant communities or strength of character. Leading alongside people is all about establishing right relationships and being genuinely involved in the community you are serving.

I thank our outgoing College leaders for their work this year.  They have added much to the atmosphere and environment of St Edmund’s in what has been a difficult and challenging year with disruption and cancellations.  Despite this, they have contributed to a very successful year.  I thank them for their hard work, their co-operation and their ability to create a vision and make that vision a reality.

The new College leaders who have been announced today were chosen because they have already demonstrated that they are good at working alongside others – they are aware of the needs, wants and wellbeing of their fellow students, and have articulated how they can work to improve and strengthen these even further.  I wholeheartedly congratulate our new College leaders, wish them well in their journey of leadership and look forward with great anticipation in working with them.  I thank the families of our new College leaders for their positive role in moulding our College leaders into the fine young men they are today. 

So to our new College leaders – what will emerge from your servant leadership?  How can you best serve your fellow students and the wider Eddie’s community? Today’s new leaders will receive their leadership badges at the opening school Mass at the beginning of next year, but today they be presented with an Edmund Rice pin.  I personally ask them to wear this every day – to be reminded that they are leaders in the footsteps of Blessed Edmund Rice and, like Edmund Rice, they should be working to let the light of Christ shine on those around them, to listen to and look at what is needed in their College community and to act on that in a practical, active and dynamic manner, to be leaders with vibrant spirit and strong character.  Best wishes, good luck and congratulations on your very significant achievement of being in a position to serve those around you”. 

A Leader’s Prayer

Leadership is hard to define.
Lord, let us be the ones to define it with justice.
Leadership is like a handful of water.
Lord, let us be the people to share it with those who thirst.
Leadership is not about watching and correcting.
Lord, let us remember it is about listening and connecting.
Leadership is not about telling people what to do.
Lord, let us find out what people want.
Leadership is less about the love of power,
and more about the power of love.

Lord, let us be affirmed by the servant leadership we witness in your son Jesus.
Let us walk in the path He has set and let those who will, follow.

Let our greatest passion be compassion.
Our greatest strength love.
Our greatest victory the reward of peace.

In leading let us never fail to follow.
In loving let us never fail.

Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us
Live Jesus in Our Hearts, forever

Mr Joe Zavone
College Principal
Christus Lux Mea

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