Jesuit and Companion school leaders gather at conference

In December students from Jesuit and Companion schools from across Australia came together for a leadership conference at Xavier College, Melbourne to learn more about a Jesuit and Ignatian approach to leadership.

A gathering of student leaders from Jesuit and Companion Schools Australia (JACSA) took place in December at Xavier College, Melbourne. The annual student leaders conference provides an opportunity for students from across the country to come together, learn more about a Jesuit and Ignatian approach to leadership and share their ideas.

Hosted between Sunday, 4 December and Tuesday, 6 December at Xavier College, Melbourne, the participants spent time getting to know each other, shared in a celebration of the Eucharist and watched the classic film, The Mission. Across Monday and Tuesday, they engaged in presentations and discussions on cura personalis and the importance of self-care; seeking and finding God in all things, while at school and in the years beyond; discernment as a graced way of making decisions; and the way seeking the magis leads to outcomes that are more faithful, hopeful and loving.

The Ignatian pillar of seeking and finding God in all things was explored by a panel of young Old Xavierians who continue to practise faith, including through service, after school. A number spoke of the positive faith-filled experience of attending Newman College, the Jesuit-run residential college at the University of Melbourne, and one of his time of service with The Cardoner Project in northern Thailand.

The final session, exploring the concept of magis, was led by staff from Jesuit Social Services. Team members from the Ecological Justice program, The Men’s Project, and the Policy and Advocacy team spoke of a desire to work with greater depth, for a deeper good. They explained how this led their teams to address the various challenges of climate change, male violence and the low age of criminal responsibility from a community-based perspective.

Led by Michael Aldcroft, head of student culture at Xavier College and Julian Butler SJ, chaplain to students at the school, the student leaders took time after each presentation to reflect and share in small groups about what they had heard. Over the course of the days together student leaders from each of the schools were able to articulate projects and ways of proceeding that they would like to implement in their school context in 2023.

A highlight of the week involved the students engaged in a ‘scavenger hunt’ between Xavier College in Kew and Newman College in Parkville, with teams needing to answer questions and photograph themselves at various landmarks. The group was privileged to receive a tour of Newman College, led by Provost, Guglielmo Gottoli, and Deputy Provost, Rebecca Daly. They then shared dinner in the beautiful dining room.

The days together concluded with a final liturgy presided at by Provincial, Fr Quyen VU SJ, and Xavier College Rector, Fr Chris Middleton SJ. Students were able to reflect on their time together and Fr Quyen challenged them to go out and lead by service to others.

Rector Fr Chris Middleton SJ (left) and Provincial Fr Quyen Vu SJ (right) at Xavier College Chapel celebrating the final liturgy with the Year 12 leaders.