Salesian College, Chadstone
At a recent gathering after a wedding of a Salesian past pupil most of the people in the room heard a surprised voice exclaim, “Gawd, I haven’t seen you in years!”
And a hardy handshake accompanied the beginning of a spirited conversation. This, and many similar incidents shows how past pupils of Salesian College remain bonded over the years by a common spirit. While life’s journey takes them along diverse paths after leaving Salesian College, there is a character, a recognised common spirit, that very quickly re-surfaces when past pupils meet. This is especially evident at reunions, but it is also a strong connecting current when surprise encounters occur around the country or even overseas.
On the world-wide level past pupils are identified more closely with Don Bosco – Past Pupils of Don Bosco. This personalizes the connection and highlights the ‘something’ special as the character of the relationship that unites members of the Salesian family. In fact there is an international movement of young people and adults, men and women, who, being Past Pupils of Don Bosco support the ongoing Salesian Mission especially in places where there is a pressing need as, for example, in Haiti at the present time.
Because of our very busy lives in this hectic twenty first century, past pupil meetings, gatherings and reunions, tend to slip down the list of things to do and other priorities tend to queue-jump. However, there is always great interest in ‘news’ from the ‘old school’ and particularly news of other past pupils.
Recently, and sadly, Dave Callanan caught up with a number of past pupils at Bob Ferguson’s funeral. Bob was a student at Chadstone (1960-1964). He was a great friend to many as was attested by the attendance at the funeral including Jim Ferguson (1962-1967), Clive Richie, his brother Dave and Mac Gawne (Late 50s early 60s) and Dave’s brother John (1957-1963). In conversation Dave commented on the number of past pupils he encounters quite incidentally from time to time, and the inevitable question that arises – “Do you ever hear of….?” He ran into Tony Bentham (1962-1965) recently and he asked about Michael Fernon, Tony Chinnock, Don Ryan and the Guerin brothers. Dave was able to share some news over a quiet beer.
On an international level, Dave recently had the opportunity to visit the Don Bosco Youth Centre in Pune, India (The Mumbai Province). He was warmly welcomed as a member of the Salesian Family and found Don Bosco at work amongst the thousands of young people living in the slums around the city.
The aim of Don Bosco was to form “Good citizens and honest Christians”—people who make a difference and contribute to making this a better world. We see this being lived out by Gerry Wood who is an Independent MLA in the Northern Territory and member of the Salesian College Hall of Fame. He holds the balance of power and constantly has to stand his ground as pressure builds around him and demands are made of him to lean one way and another. He is a proud past pupil of Salesian College and one with whom Don Bosco would certainly be very pleased. Besides those who have very note-worthy public roles like Gerry, there are the thousands investing the education and personal formation they have received at Salesian College in making a real difference in their world of influence. One only has to see the number of past pupils listed amongst the staff at Salesian Colleges at Chadstone, Ferntree Gully, Sunbury and interstate, to appreciate the readiness of dedicated people to identify in, and contribute to the Mission of Don Bosco.
Fr. John Papworth SDB