Jams? Cookies? Preserves? Stamps? All those, and more, were highlights
of the Maytime Fair, an annual event that helps fund Jesuit Mission’s work.


By Julian Butler SJ

The sense of fun, connection and goodwill were palpable at Xavier College, Kew on the first Saturday in May. The buzz was very much back at the Maytime Fair after the Covid years and a heavily rain-affected event in 2023. The new layout of the Fair, as well as Xavier’s new Kostka Building and underground car park were proudly on display as thousands attended to share in a collective act of generosity.  

The Fair was, as ever, a community affair. So many volunteers work away on stalls prior to the day. Books are received for months, for instance, and sorted for weeks before the Fair. The stamp stall is part of a year-round effort by a dedicated group known affectionately as “the Stampies”. Some 400 cakes were baked by Xavier College Junior School (Burke Hall) families in the days before and various jams and preserves had been batch-cooked by Xavier College families in the lead up to the event.   

Photo courtesy Xavier College.

On the day, the Jesuit parishes at Hawthorn and Richmond both had stalls, as did Jesuit Companion schools, St Ignatius, Geelong and Loyola College, Watsonia. Students and staff from Ignatian sister schools, Genazzano FCJ College and Loreto Mandeville Hall as well as Siena College and Ruyton, assisted on the day. Students from Newman College and Melbourne’s Cardoner Community also helped out. The sense of camaraderie and “pitching in” among volunteers was palpable throughout the day.  

Steadily flowing lines were seen at the rides throughout the afternoon. Students and staff from each of the Xavier College Houses ran stalls like the golf-putting competition, a chocolate throw and dart competition to add attractions. This writer was mildly relieved when the dunk tank malfunctioned two hours before his 1pm shift on the cold seat. Xavier’s Junior School staff again ran a terrifically appealing craft stall that kept kids having fun all day.  

Photo courtesy Xavier College

Coffee as well as bacon and egg rolls welcomed guests outside the Chapel. Out in the Rigg Quadrangle, bands played and people shared in food and drink with multiple cuisines on offer. The Quad bustled with people all through the morning and up to the 5pm event close. A no-less-quiet Dining Room played host to generous helpings of a High Tea kind. People kept bumping into one another, stopping to chat and then meeting other friends new and old. It was a day of smiles.  

Representative of the great many generous volunteers is the Maytime Fair Committee which had been meeting since November 2023 to plan the day under the leadership of Sonia Rohan. The committee assists Jesuit Mission Australia’s Events Coordinator, Katrina Varis, and receives much support from Xavier’s Property Manager, Gerry Sullivan. In every respect, organising the Fair is a big team effort, and this team of three is the heart of making the day possible.

Julian Butler SJ (third from right) with the Maytime Fair volunteers. Photo: Jesuit Mission Australia

The final event of the day was Mass at 5:30pm, the fourth offered through the day. Those Masses are a reminder that there is a deeply spiritual enterprise undergirding the activity that took place across the campus. As Fr Brian McCoy SJ reflected at the conclusion of the final Mass of the day, the Fair was an act of love connecting all those who gathered and gave with those whom Jesuit Mission seeks to serve. That service is made more possible by the funds raised at the Fair, but maybe even more so by the goodwill developed and the sense of common responsibility to share in alleviating suffering and bringing faith, hope and love to those marginalised and dispossessed in the world today.  

Banner image courtesy Xavier College.

To enquire about becoming a Jesuit in Australia, contact vocations@sjasl.org.au and for more info, visit our Vocations page.