Bishop Vincent’s address at the 2023 Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese (CSPD) annual Bishop’s Student Excellence Awards at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta
7 September 2023
It is with great joy that I welcome you: distinguished guests, elected officials, CSPD board members, education leaders, teachers, clergy, parents and above all, students to this annual student excellence awards evening.
I am privileged and honoured to stand here in front of you all and acknowledge the achievements of our students who have made Catholic education and above all their schools and their families proud. It is right that we recognise and affirm their hard work, discipline, dedication and commitment. The application of these virtues is rooted in the teachings of Christ and it is the cause of celebration tonight.
Like good and faithful servants, these students do not take for granted what has been entrusted to them: time, talent, ability, support system, family, friends etc. They have made the most of the opportunities God gave them. They did not bury their talents. They took necessary risks in investing them and producing the dividends at the proper time.
The honour we bestow on them tonight recognises not only what they have done but also the positive attitude with which they have imbued their environments and relationships. They share the honour with loved ones and others who have supported them and made it possible for them to give the best of themselves.
The awards to be distributed tonight are not just for recognising those students who have performed exceptionally well in their academics, but also to honour those students who excelled in sports, arts and other fields of endeavour.
Catholic education is much more than academic results. Rather, it is more about bringing the best person out of every student. It is about drawing out the full stature of Christ in which they were created. It is about enabling them into to become the whole person God intends you to be: body, mind and spirit. It’s about forming our students and communities into people and places that embody the Reign of God.
Catholic education in Australia came into existence because in the words of Mary MacKillop, our pioneers saw a need and decided to do something about it. That unmet need was the poor, the unmarried mothers, the underprivileged and those who could not have afforded a quality education for their children otherwise. So, our pioneers launched into the deep and modelled an inclusive, caring and wholesome way of being together.
We are privileged to stand on their shoulders and continue to foster their legacy. Whether we are pastors, principals, leaders, teachers, parents, guardians and students, we have been called to accompany one another on the journey to wholeness and to lead our learning communities to become critical yeast in critical times.
With Jesus’ model of drawing out the best in people and privileging the downtrodden, we can work towards an economy and a social structure that prioritises the care of people and the care of the environment. As we renew our gratitude to God, may we commit ourselves to be good and faithful servants, learning to grow and use what we are given for the common good, for the betterment of our society and for a better future of all.