Faith Matters – Take care of yourselves

Brendan Nicholls 5 October 2021

For Year 12 students the past two years have produced numerous challenges. As they move to the next stage, it is time to reflect on the school year and, indeed, the secondary school journey.  

Dear Class of 2021,

What a final year you have had. When you walked through the gates in early in 2016 there was no way you could have guessed how your final year would play out. As you enter your final two weeks it’s time to reflect on your journey, the change that is about to occur, and what your future might be.

What were you thinking when you ‘arrived’ on your first day? Who were your friends then? What did you look forward to the most and what did you ‘want to be’? Your first year was a new beginning, a great adventure: reflect on the excitement and joy of 2016.

Over the years you grew as a student, a young adult and a member of our Ignatian community. From Years 8 to 11 consider all the things that occurred. Reflect on your friendships – how some became stronger, more diverse or the reasons why some faded. How did those friendships nourish and support you? Consider acknowledging these people and offer them gratitude for all they have done to help you become who you are today.

What academic challenges did you encounter? Did you ‘favourite’ subjects change over time? What have you learned about yourself and your vision for life? What difficulties did you encounter and overcome, and how did this perseverance and success open your eyes to what you are capable of with the support of those who guide you?

Have you become the person our community hope you can be? Have the virtues we respect and your ability to love others been embraced and refined by you over the years? Did you hear the wisdom offered in your Religious Education classes about who we are because of Jesus who provides all that we need?

Have you learned to love those who are different? Did you embrace the opportunities to serve people on the margins? Have you become aware of the power you have and the change you can bring to the world as an advocate for those who are voiceless? Did the story of St Ignatius of Loyola inspire you? Are you prepared to embrace the life of a disciple as you begin your next pilgrimage?

Reflect on your final year. What a challenge it has been to stay focused among all the disruption. What did you learn about life and yourself this year? Who helped you and who did you help when things were tough? How do you best celebrate the journey and enjoy your final classes? How do you balance the excitement and distraction of your last class in two weeks’ time against preparing for your final academic challenge at secondary school?

As you finish your time as a student know that we are proud of you. We know you and have seen you become someone who we believe in. We know you are destined to become a ‘big deal’. We hope that you have learned that being a big deal is finding your vocation in life and doing it with passion. Some of you will become doctors, others political leaders, some of you will be tradies, others will work in a variety of jobs that serve others. It doesn’t matter what your future job may be, you are valuable and if you live your life the way we have encouraged you to you will be happy and successful. You will change the world by being you.

As St Ignatius would say, ‘cuídese’ – take care. We know that it’s time to say goodbye. We will miss you, but you have outgrown the need for secondary education. There are bigger things for you to do now. You are not leaving our thoughts, you will soon be a member of our alumni community, many of you will pride and faith in us send you children to our college in the future.

Most importantly know that we are excited for you, that you are a loved member of our college and that you always will be. In Jesus’ name cuídese.

Brendan Nicholls is liturgy coordinator at St Ignatius College, Geelong.
Photo: Getty Images