More than 150 Year 12 student leaders attended a forum at St Mary’s Cathedral College which focused on the value of servant leadership and the qualities needed to be effective in their new roles.
The 2015 Archdiocesan Student Leadership Day invited four leaders from each Catholic high school within the Archdiocese of Sydney to attend the event on December 2.
Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher delivered an address at the event before blessing the new leaders in the neighbouring Cathedral. He told students to be mindful of the socially and materially poor within their school communities and to do good. His Grace then took questions and comments from students on the theme of Christian leadership.
Executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools Dr Dan White also encouraged students to think about the indelible fingerprints, and the legacy, they would leave behind when they graduate in 2016.
Trinity Catholic College Auburn’s school captains Lapulou Tuipulotu and Lwal Mayath were among the attendees.
“I took a lot from the day about how to become an effective and active leader – taking the opportunities our teachers give us, trusting others, building family spirit within the community and, because our school is so culturally diverse, also building on that unity factor,” Lapulou said.
“When it comes to being academically successful, Polynesian culture isn’t really renowned for that, so I guess in my leadership role I really want to instil that you can be sporty and you can have areas that are academic that you are strong at as well. You can do singing and dancing and balance that with being good at Maths or Economics.”
That’s the responsibility you have – to be the great role model that everybody needs you to be.
Lwal said the day allowed him to appreciate that the student leaders were alike across different schools, and to take some excellent ideas forward to the next Student Representative Council meeting at Trinity.
“The leaders are not very different,” he said. “We’re all raised up to the same morals within a similar environment but are all unique.
“I come from a South Sudanese background where I wasn’t really used to being in multicultural area, and when I came to a Catholic school I started to get used to meeting different types of people.
“I think school has taught me very well to lead a life like Jesus. Somehow I managed to become school captain this year. It helps a lot my siblings are all unique in their own way, being the eldest brother in a big family has given me a sense of maturity to try to lead them and that helps when I speak to the younger students in Year 7 and 8.”
LaSalle Catholic College Bankstown leader Gregory Nassar, 16, said it was valuable to learn more about leadership qualities.
“It changed my perspective on a couple of things,” he said. “I never really considered leaving a legacy behind me. Now I know a lot of younger students will be looking up to me, so if I want to put an idea forward I have to do it with a lot of conviction and stay dedicated and committed to it so they can learn from my example.”
Mount St Joseph Milperra co-captain Vanessa El Haddad said the group looked at the challenges of leadership and how they could be overcome using Catholic morals and values. “I think looking at what other schools have as well was useful,” she said. “It’s good to gain inspiration and different perspectives on the way you plan out things.”
Patrician Brothers College Fairfield vice captain Damian Gilyana, 16, said he found the day enriching. Building community spirit and finding time for God, even in secular activities, were also part of the day’s conversations.
“That whole notion of being a servant leader came up a lot,” Damian said. “It’s not just about the initiatives you take it’s a lot about how you present yourself. That’s the responsibility you have – to be the great role model that everybody needs you to be.”