Today marks the 18th anniversary of the events that changed the world forever. You, our young people, never experienced the world prior to this event. The chain of events that changed society forever has brought fear, suspicion, and distrust to our everyday living. The September 11 events in the US is one example of how in the terror of events when humanity is faced with the greatest of obstacles leaders stand out. And when we reflect on leaders who stand out in history from Moses, Christ, Joan of Arc, or Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela or Saint Mother Theresa and Saint Oscar Romero – these are leaders who embodied hope in the face of despair – life in the face of death a new tomorrow. They attest to the fact that leadership is in all of us and when faced with great challenges we can choose to stand up. Today we celebrate this gift and recognise those who will model and remind us of our ability to be leaders. We also thank those who have led us with such presence and action in 2019.
Leadership is about inspiration. As John Quincy Adams once said: ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’ Sometimes we are blessed with a podium and words with which to inspire, but mostly what is required are humble witness and selfless example. No less powerful! The irony is that we inspire more through authenticity and humility than by dazzling skills and eloquent speeches.
The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet! It will always sound terrible! Leaders are, in the main, motivators and inspirers of people. The quality of our leadership will be measured by our willingness and capacity to inspire and excite, to engage and enlist others in a vision for a better world.
In doing this in a Christian context, leaders should make bold claims about humanity and the way in which human beings should engage in our world. Speak for the voiceless and those who are excluded. Speak about the future of our world, about justice, about the way in which we are expected to relate to one another, about the dignity of every human life.
You are given a badge and a title.
Always remember that the shallowest form of leadership relies on titles to assert authority and influence. A title will only buy you a little time-either to increase the level of influence or erase it. People will quickly see through your lack of authenticity. If people rely on titles or external endorsement in the hope of gaining respect and support, then they aren’t really leaders and they won’t inspire.
Leadership in Catholic schools takes its inspiration from the Christian Gospel. Jesus said very little about leadership, except to condemn those who misused their position in society for the purposes of personal gain. Rather than talk about it, Jesus modelled leadership. His, and all leadership in the Christian context must be focused on service and inclusion.
Leadership is first and foremost, influence over people. The result of having influence is getting people to participate.
How YOU make sense of being a young person in our world will help your peers work out who they are and where they stand on what is truly important in life. True leaders articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts.
Show what truly matters to you and make this a priority for your leadership. This should be an inspirational, empowering and ‘hope-filled’ vision.
Christian leadership takes seriously the injunction to ‘let our light shine’. That light becomes an inspiration to all.
As a student leader, you help define success for your fellow students. Your achievement and success of your school will not be solely measured by exam results and by university admission scores. The measure of all our lives will simply be this: How well have we prepared you to meet the challenges to come? How strong is your resolve? How generous is your spirit? How willing are you to embrace a future with less materialism but with more of what matters? In whatever walk of life you find yourself, whether you walk a world stage or a more humble one, are you convinced that the only way forward for all of us is in a world dedicated to the common good over individual gain?
We will all be only half educated when we leave school unless we have acquired a sense of human dignity and worth, an appreciation of life, the ability to give and receive love, the knowledge of how to use our limited time wisely, and the determination to leave the world a better place for our having been in it.
Use your time as school leaders to not only model good study habits, but to remind your peers that they should never allow the results they receive at the end of the year to define or limit them.
Clearly for Marcellin, inclusion of those at the margins of society is a core value for authenticity in our mission. The Marist charism is always focused on the marginalized. It gives priority to inclusion and an authentic preferential option for the poor. It contends that we cannot fully claim the title Catholic without this emphasis on inclusion and outreach to those on the margins.
We thank our 2019 College Leaders for their work, modelling and representing and we welcome our new leaders and look forward to them continuing the long legacy of strong leadership in the Marist way.
I would like to thank Mr Paton, Assistant Principal - Mission and Welling and David Bonora, Pastoral Leader of Learning - Year 11, for their work and preparation for our Leadership assembly today and for co-ordinating the leadership election process over the term including selection of our Student Leaders for 2020.
Mr Jason Scanlon