Headmaster’s Eucharist Address

Headmaster Ross Featherston's address at Eucharist on 2 February 2018, as prepared for delivery.

Good morning Fr Tony, Mr Tellefson, Dr Horton, Dr Swann and Secondary School staff and students. Welcome to our Chairman of Council Mr Peter Ickeringill and a particular warm welcome to the families of our Captains and Prefects.

I would like to thank Fr Tony for his work in arranging this morning’s Eucharist. Like yesterday’s Assembly, it is wonderful we are all gathered here in St Andrews as a Secondary School as the new school year starts.

This morning as a community we induct our school leaders – Brad, Ethan, Nick, Will and Max – and we commission our two new Deputy Headmasters – Dr Horton and Dr Swann, who join Mr Tellefson as our three school Deputy Headmasters.

As you heard our School Captain Brad say yesterday at Assembly, 2018 is about being ‘as one’: being a better man today than the man you were yesterday. And as you heard from the Gospel this morning read by Fr Tony, Jesus commands us to love each other.

At the end of last year, a fellow APS school suffered a terrible tragedy when two of their Year 12 students, who had just finished their exams, were in a car accident. One of these young men, 18 years old, lost his life. I recall reading in the paper afterwards some of the comments from this young man’s mates. One, from a rowing mate, sticks in my mind and in my heart. This is what he said.

“Men aren’t taught to tell other men that they love them. I never had the chances to say how much I really loved him and the fact I can’t say or do it now … all I can do is write a note and leave it at the tree.”

I’m not here this morning to tell you to tell your mates that you love them. But I am here this morning to offer some thoughts about what love can mean for us as we head into the year of ‘as one’. And also to offer some thoughts about how love might play a role in helping you be a better man today than the man you were yesterday.

Sir Graham Henry gave you some ideas about being a better man in Assembly. He spoke about individuals setting goals, he spoke about being physically active and well, he spoke about being connected, he spoke about working hard and he spoke about everyone committing to the team’s vision.

So where does love – the sort of love that we heard about in this morning’s Gospel – fit in to being a better man today than the man you were yesterday?

As odd as this may sound, you need to love yourself first. As Sir Graham said yesterday, we don’t want inflated egos. But we do want to be comfortable with who we are, what we stand for and what we hope to achieve. We need to have an individual sense of purpose and, again, a sense of being connected. We need to be passionate. We need to be engaged in what we are doing.

Indeed, we are encouraged to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Yes, we need to love ourselves.

We then need to consider what love is and what it can mean to us. To some, this can be a challenge. I have no doubt that this might be something you have never really thought of.

I believe we can look at the book of Corinthians for a good idea of what love is. And what love isn’t.

Love is patient, love is kind. 

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 

It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Love never fails

One of the great things about Brighton Grammar is our strong sense of community and connectedness. We aren’t a big school numerically, but we are a big school spiritually. This community and connectedness is surely enhanced by the coming together of Years 7 and 8 with Years 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Here, in this strong and connected community…

We can be patient, we can be kind.

We do not envy, we do not boast.

We do not dishonour others.

We rejoice with the truth.

We protect, we trust, we hope, we persevere.

After all this is what love is.

And after all, this will make us better men.

So, as we enter into a new year, with new leaders and a new theme, think of what love means to you, to your family, to your mates, to the rest of our Secondary School.

Real men, successful men, good men, love.

I congratulate Brad, Ethan, Nick, Will and Max on becoming our School Leaders for 2018.

I also congratulate Dr Horton and Dr Swann.

I wish them all the very best for 2018.

And I wish you all the very best for 2018.

So in the year of ‘as one’, where we are trying to be better men today than the men we were yesterday, perhaps, just perhaps we might think about, and even talk about, the central role love plays in that.

The Lord be with you.