Gentlemen, here we are, the end of 2023. You probably thought it couldn’t come quickly enough and here it is. I want to congratulate the Class of 2023 and welcome the young men who are taking on the wonderful responsibility of being a leader at Blackfriars.
Today is World Teachers’ Day. I am hoping that everyone here bought something very nice for their teacher today! Education first starts at home and I want to begin by thanking the parents. Pope Francis talks about the importance of the house, the home, that place where love is learned. And to our families who are here today, you must be feeling so many mixed emotions – from that first day you drop your son off at school, when he was a little Reception, to today, where he’s about to walk into the big, wide world.
And to the other parents who are here because their son is now a school leader … moving into his final year or years at school. That’s a long, long way away for me with my children, but I am told, just as we tell the Prefects and the Class of 2023, those days go very quickly. So, fill that place with love, your family, and remember , boys, that your parents always want the very best from you.
The job of a teacher is to … leave you with an experience of something positive. That’s what Pope Francis talks about. The role of education is to challenge people to think in a way that makes life better for others. I know in our classes, our teachers do that, you are challenged in your thinking and in your being. So, thank you to those who have educated you over the past 13 years of your schooling life.
It will be sad to see you go, but change is inevitable. There was a changing of the guard … when I was up on the stage and shaking the hands of the new Prefects. Patrick Moore, his father, Ciaran, was a Prefect with me in my year level (at Blackfriars) and I never would have believed that I would be giving his son a Prefects’ tie. You never know what the future holds.
It’s been a year of change, boys. The 30th of November last year marked a significant date in the world for change. It was the day Chat GPT came into existence. And the Class of 2023 now think, ‘wow, the Class of 2022 did not have Chat GPT, how did they get anything done?’. In less than a year, reflect back on the changes, I think there has been 27 updates to Chat GPT, new versions, revisions … things change and they change at a dramatic rate.
I looked up at what else happened on the 30th of November … and Don Bradman made his debut in Brisbane and did such a fine job that he was dropped to 12th man for the second Test. He scored an 18 and a 1. Don’t give up. Whatever life throws at you, do not give up. Be men of truth, reflect on the moments of great consolation, think back to when you were nurtured and supported here at Blackfriars and within your families and draw strength from that. Draw strength from the love that is Blackfriars. Be in contact with each of you mates. Keep that relationship simple – just ring them (you don’t ring anymore, whatever you do, just do it). Be in touch with them. And make sure that you continue that bond.
Finally spend that time in prayer. And I know that’s a complex one. Whoever you call God, or whatever you call God, always understand there is something greater than you in this world. And rely on that love and that connection to God.