Address during Solemn Vespers and the Presentation of the 2022 Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Bishop’s Student Excellence Awards at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
24 August 2022
With great joy, we have come together to celebrate the Annual Student Excellence Awards night after the disruption of the pandemic.
It is right that we recognise and affirm the excellence which is achieved by hard work, discipline, dedication and enquiry. The application of these virtues is rooted in the teaching 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, friendship, mentoring etc. They have made the most of the opportunities God gave them. They did not bury them. 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. It is not so much the quantity of their deeds or their results but the quality of their commitment. They share the honour with loved ones and others who have supported them and made it possible for them to give of themselves.
I have a friend whose son is doing Year 12 this year. I am amazed how hard it is to be a committed parent of a HSC student or indeed any student, especially when dealing with the stresses and strains of the exam season, not to mention other challenges of the teenage years. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I am sure you the students appreciate the collective effort that has brought you to this point in time.
Catholic education is much more than making you academically gifted, orientating you to a high-flying career, or placing you well-situated on the pecking order. Rather, it is more about bringing the best person out of you. It is about drawing out the full stature of Christ in which you were created. It’s enabling you 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.
Ultimately, the recognition is not just about anyone involved in the pursuit of excellence. It is about honouring God and we are so privileged to be His instruments as we endeavour to develop our gifts and talents in service to the Church and the broader community. 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 his glory and the benefit of our brothers and sisters.
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