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Empowerment Through Education

What does Waverley College, Parade College, St Virgil’s College, Rostrevor College and Aquinas College have in common with Ambrose Treacy College? All these colleges in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth have a vision and commitment to provide an education to young men that is inspired by the story and charism of Edmund Rice.

All these colleges are a part of Edmund Rice Education Australia and all strive to offer an education that is not necessarily better than other schools but rather they aspire to be distinctive in a holistic way that is characteristic of our schools.

This Friday morning as a community we will gather and celebrate with a Mass, the feast day of Blessed Edmund Rice. Edmund’s story is one seeing a need and then responding to that need. As a successful businessman working around the docks of Waterford, Edmund was touched by the plight of the poor young boys who he saw ‘hanging’ around the wharves. Without an education they did not have the means to change their lives. Whereas the simple answer would be to give them a handout, Edmund chose the path of giving them a hand up – he gave the means to change their own destination by empowering them with an education. The notion of liberating children with an education is not new, it was the context that Edmund operated in that gave this story value.

The other distinctive choice that Edmund made was that the education he offered was for the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. The young boys who were ‘lost’ on the wharves of Waterford were educated with the other young Catholic boys from well to do families. To ensure that they were able to come to school on the same equal footing he operated both a tailor shop and a bakery – he clothed them and he fed them. This idea that we are equal is an important underlying principle that was the nature of his schools and continues to be an important element of our schools today. I would always hope that we never strive to be an exclusive elite school rather our aim is to be an inclusive school that ensures that personal excellence is a key feature of our school.

Edmund Rice’s charism continues to be our lighthouse. Charism is not a word that the average person would come across. In fact, not all dictionaries recognise it as an actual word. The word charism refers to a spiritual gift or talent granted by God to the recipient not primarily for his own sake but for the benefit of others. So, when we talk about Edmund Rice’s charism we talk about the inspiration of the story of Edmund from his own deep spirituality and love of God, his compassion that opened his heart up to the poor and his commitment to be a man of action and not just words.

The Christian Brothers story in Australia is a vibrant and creative response to the educational needs of the day. The formation of Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) by the Christian Brothers in 2007 continues and renews this creative response. EREA, as part of the mission of the Catholic Church, is charged with the responsibility for the governance of the Christian Brothers’ schools throughout Australia, to ensure that Edmund’s charism lives on in this work at a time when the Brothers are being called to new directions within a shared vision. Today Catholic schools in the Edmund Rice tradition, all operate under a Charter that challenges us to be the kind of school that Edmund Rice would hope to operate in today’s social context.

The touchstones that challenge us to give life to this Charter are Gospel Spirituality, Inclusive Community, Liberating Education and Justice and Solidarity.Our celebration this Friday is more than just recognising a remarkable inspiring person whose life has and continues to give hope to young boys and girls across Australia. This Friday is a challenge to us all to ask whether or not we are people of action. No doubt we could all just sit back and enjoy the benefits of a comfortable life, a balanced education and by most measures, hope for the future. We are challenged to look beyond the comfort of our own lives to see those around us who are ‘poor’ to ask the important question what can I do to challenge and change this. Not everything can be changed in our world, but we should not be daunted by the fact that we might not be able to do all that we want. There is a simple saying that every little bit counts and this is especially true in our world that is desperately wanting a better future for our world. A full story of Edmund Rice’s life and his inspirational legacy can be found on the EREA website.

Today at ATC we see ourselves with a vision operating under the mission of the Catholic Church to provide a quality education to the young men enrolled at the College. It is always important to remind ourselves of our calling. With the celebration of the Feast Day of Blessed Edmund Rice it would be appropriate to remind ourselves as a community of our own Vision Statement and Mission Statement.

Vision Statement*

Ambrose Treacy College aims to be an authentic Catholic community in the Edmund Rice tradition that promotes excellence in learning, leadership and service in order to challenge its members to make a prophetic difference for our world.

Mission Statement*

Ambrose Treacy College is an inclusive community on a journey to:

  • Live and grow as a faith community based on the story of Jesus, Edmund Rice and Ambrose Treacy in order to make their message of compassion, justice and love an active reality.
  • Demonstrate respect for the dignity of the person by celebrating and supporting the holistic pursuit of their potential.
  • Engage boys in dynamic and relevant experiences and pathways that promote learning, personal growth, achievement and service.
  • Develop courageous young men of character and integrity who build compassionate relationships and proudly contribute to the College, its traditions and aspirations.

ATC Building Names

Families new to ATC may not have had the opportunity to understand the back story to the various names that make up our built environment. We have been very deliberate and intentional in the naming of our buildings – they provide the backdrop to the life and journey of Edmund Rice. Our hope is that the name of the buildings invite the sharing of the story behind them and in some small way the inspirational story of Edmund Rice.

  • Year 4, 5 and 6 classrooms – New Street, which is the name of Edmund’s first school in 1802 converted from a stable.
  • The Junior Library – Mt Sion, which is the first purpose built school that Edmund opened in Waterford in 1803.
  • The Original Building – Edmund Rice Building
  • Middle School Classrooms – Callan which is the village that Edmund was born in.
  • Middle school Specialist facilities – Kilkenny which is the County that Edmund was born in.
  • Middle school Library – Westcourt, the town in which Edmund grew up in.

Our New Buildings

Two of our new buildings in the next stage of development will be named Waterford and Tipperary. Both these buildings will continue to identify with significant places in Ireland. Waterford is the town that realised Edmund’s dream to educate the poor young men he saw daily around the wharves of this busy sea port. Tipperary is the birth place of Patrick Ambrose Treacy and the site of his own first contact as a student of the Christian Brothers.

The third of our new buildings will named the Xavier Centre in recognition of the original site on which all these new buildings will stand. This site was the Teachers College for the Christian Brothers Northern Province, the St Francis Xavier Province. The old Riverglenn conference centre was known as the Xavier Teachers’ College.

With best wishes,
Michael Senior