Fr Frank Bertagnolli has begun his new role as the Rector of Salesian College Chadstone and the community. In the first newsletter of the college, the following is what he shares with the college community of his excitement and hopes for many years to come.
I would like to acknowledge the warm and friendly welcome I received by the Salesians and the Principal and Staff, on taking up my role as Rector and Chaplain at Salesian College. The students are very friendly and respectful: several have come to introduce themselves, and to welcome me here.
My association with Salesian College Chadstone goes back to the summer of 1956-57. At that time there were no houses in Bosco and Savio Streets, no Monash freeway, no Chadstone shopping centre… The Salesians had been given the property from Waverley Road to Oakpark Drive (Oakleigh) by the Moroney family. On the Oakleigh side of the current freeway (where the Mannix campus is) there was an old brick home and several army huts (where the young Salesians lived), and an abandoned apple orchard. Along Waverley Rd the Salesians sold some blocks of land, and with that money began the construction of the first 2 classrooms and a small hall of Salesian College. The first group of students arrived in February 1957. During that summer, the young Salesians (including myself) used to act as “security” people at night and on weekends to protect the new school buildings… The first Teachers were Salesian priests and a Brother… Very humble beginnings of what has become one of the most successful Colleges serving the Catholic population of the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Nowadays there are few historical memories of those beginnings. The Salesians have handed over the administration and education to a competent group of lay people.
I am very hopeful for the future of this College. There are, of course, some challenges; such as the conviction and courage to work together (Salesians, Staff, families, old boys and current students); to maintain high standards of education (while giving poorer students every opportunity to achieve their potential), and above all to retain the Catholic identity and Salesian ethos of the College. We have to build on the tradition of the “giants” who have established this College.
I hope to contribute my part to maintain the spiritual and moral values of this tradition.
Fr Frank Bertagnolli, SDB