Principal’s Update 2016 – 17

Monday’s Speech Night for Years 6-12 was a joyous celebration of excellence, and a very fitting tribute to our outgoing Year 12 students. The quality of music reached ever new heights, as the whole student body sang The Rosary of the Stars, the School Song and the Hallelujah with passion and gusto. We are very blessed to have the leadership of music that we do, and I acknowledge the gifts and contributions of our Artistic Director, Mrs Karen Carey, composer and choir director, Mr Luke Byrne, our wonderful music staff, peripatetic staff, volunteer parents, orchestra, choir and indeed the whole student body.

There was such a range of talent across the student body reflected from public speaker, Kate Coyne (Year 9), and Irish Dancer, Emily Harmon (Year 12), to the prize-winners on the night. Our guest speaker, Professor Mary Foley AM, reminded us of the life long outcomes of a Santa Sabina education, and the sense of belonging and core values that persist.

A Livestream video was available on the night and it can still be viewed via

I am now looking forward to celebrating the achievements of our Primary students at the Del Monte Speech Day on Friday 2 December.

As Mr Tony Woods, Chair of the College Board, indicated at Speech Night, we begin work this term on the Siena Centre (otherwise understood as the Hall project). The first stage involves landscaping the lawn area behind the hall to form an amphitheatre.

This involves some substantial excavation works which will begin in the next couple of weeks. When this stage is finalised mid 2017 (approx.), we will then be planning for the renovation of the ground floor classrooms. It is the construction of this stage of the Siena Centre that we have been awarded the capital grant of $500,000 from the Association of Independent Schools Block Grant Authority.

Our Japanese Language students in Years 10-12 leave for their study trip to Japan on Thursday, 1 December. Led by Japanese teachers, Mr Paul Arkell and Ms Kyoko Kusomoto, the students will visit Kagoshima, Hiroshima and Tokyo, spending time in school, staying with Japanese families, and visiting significant sites, returning home before Christmas. We wish students and staff a safe and happy experience.

Volleyball teams will be heading to Melbourne on Saturday, 3 December to compete in the Annual Australian Schools Volleyball Cup. We wish them success and enjoyment as they strive to uphold the reputation that Santa Sabina College has earned in volleyball.

Our preparation for authorisation to teach the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme continues with our consultant arriving on Wednesday, 30 November for a two-day visit. This will provide us with feedback as he meets with Board members, staff, students and parents to discuss the College’s progress. We look forward to this visit.

Our whole College Festival of Carols is on next Wednesday night (30 November) at 6.30pm in the Chapel. This will be a really beautiful way to mark the end of the academic year, and the beginning of the Advent season. I look forward to seeing as many families as possible on the night.

Finally, I spoke at Speech Night about the Dominican ideal and the love of ‘the beautiful’. We experienced that through the music on the night, but there is also a very strong link between the beauty of artwork and its link to our Dominican heritage and spirit.

We only have to think of the works of the Dominican Fra Angelico to appreciate this. In our times, we also recognise Sister Sheila Flynn OP as both a wonderful Dominican and an internationally recognised artist. At our name sake in Rome between 23 November 2016 and 24 January 2017, there is a special Exhibition of Contemporary Art. Amongst these works is that of Sister Sheila Flynn.

You can find more details at the link below, and I have copied the introduction written by the Master of the Order, Brother Cadore. 

 Preface Auguri

Contemporary artists in celebration of the eight-hundredth anniversary of the Order of Preachers in this venerable location of Santa Sabina given to Dominic at the Order’s beginnings!

In expressing here my deep gratitude that they accepted this invitation, I would also like to thank them for helping us, through their artwork, to welcome visitors to this house of preaching.

The tradition and rule of the Friars preachers calls on them to learn ‘to recognise the Spirit working in the midst of God’s people, and to discern the treasures hidden in the various forms of human culture, by which human nature is more fully manifested and new paths to truth are opened.’ (LCO 99 § II). This Jubilee exhibition stems from such a desire to search, with others and especially in dialogue with artistic creation, these new paths « ad veritatem ».

Throughout its history, the Order has encouraged a very strong link with the creation of art. We can think of the famous works such as the Last Supper in Milan, or the chapel at Plateau d’Assy. We can recall the majestic artwork of Fra Angelico, or that of Kim en Jong, who forms part of this exhibition by his stained-glass windows in the cloister. We can think of brothers from the last century in the realm of Sacred Art, or those of the ‘New World,’ which make up so fertile an artistic patrimony in dialogue with the cultures they discovered. And, we must remember also the poets and sculptors, writers and musicians whom the Order has supported in the use of their gift and the creation of their art – even if this was not always immediate or easy! Yes, the Order has an almost vital link to art, probably because it is a vital link with the search for those paths towards truth.

But this vital link is not a ‘claim to fame’ for the Order! I think rather, it must be a call to the necessary humility of every quest for the truth. The art exhibited here, through the brilliance of their intuitions, the acuity of the questions they pose, and the mysterious harmony they create between them and the place they occupy, show how the paths of art can lead the human being to a more authentic expression of himself. In this place there is felt a desire for wisdom and harmony irreducible to a purely rational quest for the truth. A place where the human being learns to discern the movement of the Spirit, as a ‘faint murmur of a gentle breeze.’

A house of preaching is not first of all a house where we speak about God. Rather, it should be a house where we learn to pause in order to watch out for this ‘movement’ and to listen for a Word addressed to humanity which calls us to begin a conversation without ever being able to exhaust the mystery. In these weeks at Santa Sabina, these artworks will recall, at the heart of preaching, the need for this search in dialogue for new paths to the truth. Well beyond any ‘message’ that the artist might intend to convey, just as it is well beyond what the preacher intends to express of the Word of God, the truth sets us free to the extent that we welcome its mystery.

Dr Maree Herrett