JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH
By Russell Kam, Dean of Students, Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview
and Patrick Lowe, Deputy Principal Students, Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview
Student leaders from Australasian Jesuit and Companion schools gathered at Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview for the annual JACSA Student Leaders Conference in early December.
The event commenced on St Francis Xavier’s Feast Day, which was apt, given that schools in attendance included Xavier Catholic College (Ballina), Xavier Catholic College (Hervey Bay), and Xavier College (Kew). Other schools included John XXIII (Perth), Loyola College (Watsonia), St Aloysius’ College (Milsons Point), Saint Ignatius’ College (Adelaide), and St Ignatius’ College (Geelong), with each adding their own perspectives to the gathering.
Fr Thomas Renshaw SJ, the Rector of Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview, set the tone with Mass in the Dalton Chapel, focusing on the conference theme of Human Excellence. Jennie Hickey, Acting Director of Jesuit Education Australasia, engaged students in an activity exploring their place in the wider Jesuit education network. The activity aimed to connect students through common Ignatian language and practices, referencing the shared ideals of the Universal Apostolic Preferences.
One of the Preferences, Caring for our Common Home, took centre stage during the conference. Senior students from Riverview shared how they used personal stories and petitions to promote environmental awareness among students, staff, parents and alumni. Another conference highlight was the series of discussions on the Power of Language and Respectful Relationships, examining how Ignatian spirituality informs our interactions, particularly those in the digital realm. A shared video resource was developed during the conference for participating schools to use next year, with a central message of kindness to others and ourselves.
In another hands-on activity, students were given a budget to prepare their own lunch, corresponding to the value of a fast-food meal in different countries. This practical exercise aimed to highlight global wealth disparities while showcasing students’ creativity and culinary skills.
The conference also featured a visit to St Canice’s Parish in Rushcutters Bay, where a talk was given by Ollie Mulhearn, an alumnus of the 2018 JASCA Student Leader Conference. Ollie runs the Parish kitchen which each year provides 50,000 free meals to Sydney’s poor. His talk left a lasting impression on the importance and benefits of treating all people with respect.
The event concluded with a liturgy, revealing the formation of new relationships and a shared commitment among students to lead Jesuit and Companion Schools towards Human Excellence. Gratitude is extended to the dedicated staff and student leaders whose efforts were invaluable to the success of the 2023 JACSA Student Leaders Conference.