Well, here we are. All a bit nervous for our big English exam! Some for the first time, some for the last, and for some it’s just another one down!
My name is Michelle Murphy, I’m sure a lot of you have no idea who I am and I don’t know how I got to be here really. Anyway, I’m supposed to pass on some thoughts of our time here.
First, I’m not sure really when it started, or more so, when it’s likely to end!
I have three generations of Blazers in a cupboard, my grandfather was both a student and teacher, unable to send his 5 boys here before he died in his 40s. My father was so excited our boys were coming here, I was told to check certain boards etc… somehow, this place, without him even coming here, got into him.
Our son’s grandfather, Frank, attended all three campuses, even boarding at Burke Hall. He sent his sons to Kostka and I think he spent more time there than them after they left, and even wrote a book on the building of the chapel.
There was NO discussion where our BOYS were going.
Daniel, the last of our four children finishes school this year at Xavier. My two boys have loved their time here, both tormenting teachers and tutors in their own special way. This is probably the only thing they have in common actually, although if Dr Hayes and Mr Lewis would like some pointers for improvements, I’m sure they would be willing to offer their expert opinions, like most boys of a certain age they actually know EVERYTHING about everything!
As I was trying to write this I noticed that I kept thinking and saying “boys”.
Xavier College tends to differ and has always referred to them as men – even ‘men for others’. Us mums have trouble thinking of our babies as men. They have changed from those sweetly fragrant newborns then grubby faced toddlers to, well, not so fragrant, space consuming, food inhaling, hairy faced big people. I suppose they could be men!
They do still have what I call puppy moments, generally occurring when groups of 3 or more get together and just turn to “all paws” of slobbery or wrestling. They also think they are particularly hilarious at these times. Actually, they must be men because this happens when most blokes I know get together!
We are all here for these young men today, for our sons, grandsons, brothers and friends. They have driven us as all mad as we have rasied them, and I think that’s safe to say for most of us here. But this group has also done much good.
There are thousands of hours of service performed, consisting of many different kinds, and I’m sure many more undocumented acts. They have aided the poor, the homeless, the elderly, and even each other. They have been told so many times that they are men, and that they are actually starting to behave like them.
Much of who they are as a person comes from the home, but realistically they have been at school around seven hours a day, five days a week for up to around 40 weeks a year since they were 5 year olds. That is why this place is so important. Whether you like it or not, school plays a pivotal role in their development and even ours! Their sport, their behaviour, and their friends. Again that’s why we are here.
Mr Lewis made an interesting comment a few weeks ago at his favourite end of year appearance, about how much he is taken by the love that the boys have for this school. An honest observation made with various experience behind him at other institutions. That was really the first time I realised that it may be obvious to someone who hadn’t been to school here, what a connection they have with the place.
They hold on to this connection, they are Xaverians not just old boys. There is a sense of camaraderie for these boys, not just at school. I have been at appointments with my sons, especially when in uniform, and half the time there is devoted to discussing who the current principal and who is now the head of houses of whatever house they were in back in the day …and of course the Football discussion.
Not all of these boys are scholars, musicians or bound for the stage. I was going to say entertainers but most actually are quite entertaining!
They are all different.
There are people that they will know from Xavier for the rest of their lives.
They will all find something out there for themselves eventually, because we have given them the opportunity to take on board much more than ATARs and folios.
There is really no final goodbye for us either. We have made friends that will last a lifetime, some even because of friendships made from here well before our boys came along.
There will still be Maytime Fairs, past parent functions, mothers’ lunches and dare I say possibly the odd fundraiser to be involved in if we’re lucky!
We may get back to weddings, christenings… hopefully in the distant future, even another one of these Masses long after our sons have finished, as we can see here today with so many grandmothers!
There will always be football, rowing and cricket……and water polo!
I have often said that my husband Michael and I used the same recipe and ended up with 4 different cakes. Managing them at home is hard enough. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to put so many completely different cakes, big, small, sweet savoury, some even a little tart, all in this same oven and have them all come out pretty perfectly cooked. Some might not look perfect at first glance, but they are all pretty good in the middle.
May our men for others always have some little boy in them for themselves.