Congratulations Cardijn community leaders recognised for their service

Over the last six weeks, we have travelled through Lent in preparation for the coming of Easter. This preparation has provided us with the opportunity to reflect on our lives especially at a time when we face many different issues. On reflection, two themes stood out for me. The first was the passage of the Samaritan woman at a well, engaging with Jesus and getting him a drink. This interaction in context is profound as it illustrates the importance of us embracing our diversity and celebrating the importance of inclusivity and respect. The second theme was a passage of the healing of a blind man. It illustrated to me that in life we often face issues or indeed people who are in our blind spot. When I look in my car’s rear vision mirror, I look for any cars in my blind spot. In life, we are challenged to make sure no one is in our blind spot and that we take time to ensure our radar about people is always functioning at its best. As we enter Holy Week, may we find time to focus on the importance of Easter, which celebrates Faith, Hope and Love.

Last Friday, I was very privileged to attend the City of Onkaparinga Youth Recognition Awards. These awards recognise young people’s outstanding contribution to our community in the south through their service beyond school. These include service to support people in need, the aged, those who are in distress or community organisations such as the CFS, Surf Lifesaving and St John Ambulance. We were delighted that the City of Onkaparinga recognised more than a dozen Cardijn students for their commitment to serve the community. Congratulations to all recipients and special mention to Josh Rollings (12KO) for receiving the top award for service to the community with many hundreds of hours dedicated to others. Well done Josh.

This week I am attending a conference on leadership and it got me thinking about what to expect. Some will argue that leaders are born, whilst others would argue that good leaders learn about leadership. Often we focus on those characteristics and attributes we like to see in leaders. We look for leaders to be great communicators, able to connect and relate to people, are intelligent and able to bring a vision or direction, be decisive and good at making decisions, compassionate people who can walk the talk. For those who aspire to leadership often a course of action is to look at emulating these attributes. I have come to learn that good leadership is situational, leaders need to respond appropriately to the situation they encounter. In times of great adversity a leader needs to show strength and hope and in times of complex situations have a listening ear to get everyone to contribute. Fundamentally I have come to understand that great leadership is rooted in the very values you stand for as a leader. My values have been shaped by my parents who shaped me to be the person I am today. My upbringing in the Catholic faith has been an important factor in what I stand for today. Another major influence in my life has been my 42 years in the military. The values that shaped me as a leader are evident in how I behave, always putting others first, looking after your mates and those who you work with, celebrating success of others, keeping a strong eye on the big picture and believing in your cause. I see all these aspects of leadership evident at Cardijn College. The students recognised for Youth Recognition Awards are such an example, but there are many more unsung heroes who demonstrate leadership every day. For this our community is richly blessed.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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