Peter L’Estrange SJ
Peter L’Estrange’s longest and most recent term of service has been, for fifteen years, as Rector of Newman College, Melbourne. There he has brought to bear the personal qualities and the carefully acquired skills which have characterized him in his earlier appointments in the Society.
While no single expression sums up Peter’s contribution, he may best be seen as a priestly educator. As priest, he has stood for the centrality of the sacred in human affairs: as educator, he has been intent on the schooling of his charges in a sense of responsibility, a relish in learning, and a readiness to foster community, even against the odds.
Good educators have both an eye for detail and an ability to take the long view, and Peter has been conspicuous for both of these qualities. He has understood, and remembered the circumstances, happy or sad, of very many students, as well as of the large number of colleagues with whom he has worked at Newman and beyond it. A book, a note, or a word has been offered in many seasons.
At the same time, via the long march of daily administration, provision has been made for material, cultural, social and spiritual advances at Newman and, more generally, in the local University Colleges and the University sphere at large. Peter has been a good shepherd both of the ninety-nine and of the single sheep.
Ted Exell came to Xavier (Burke Hall) as a student in 1950. During his school years Ted showed those leadership qualities and interest in others that have been what so many have admired in him – as a student, prefect, sportsman, and debater.
Ted entered the Society of Jesus, and after studies at Loyola Watsonia and Campion he taught at Xavier as a Scholastic in 1967/68, teaching a wide variety of subjects – Religious Education, Economics, Latin and French, among others – Scholastics were expected to be ‘jacks of all trades’ then.
On leaving the Jesuits, Ted worked for a number of years in the Commonwealth Public Service, rising through those ranks very rapidly, and including a leading role in establishing Austrade.
In the mid 80’s a somewhat sceptical Archbishop of Melbourne was persuaded that he needed a Business Manager for the Diocese. Archbishop Little appointed Ted, and the rest is history. Ted has used his experience, skills and considerable diplomacy to make an enormous and perhaps rarely acknowledged difference to the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Many priests certainly look to him for advice and help in the management and financial matters in which they are not experts, and have found in Ted a sensitive and always available aide.
Ted joined the Xavier College Council in 1990, and when he retired at the end of 2005 was the last remaining member of the original Xavier Council – 16 years of service, including the last five as Chair – an enormous contribution.
Perhaps what people see most in Ted is a gentleman. He is a person of sound and balanced judgement, of commonsense and courtesy, a person who always has time for you – you are always important. He combines an enormous number of tasks, both in his job and in a voluntary capacity; he is Pro Chancellor of Australian Catholic University and serves on many other committees, including the Jesuit Province Finance Committee where his balance and wisdom are much valued. He combines this with a love and devotion to his family. Ted has brought to the various areas of the Jesuit Province in which he has participated, leadership, courtesy and an interest in and a wide knowledge of education. He has reflected in his own person and brought constantly to those bodies on which he has served attributes we seek to develop in Jesuit education – a person for others, a person of competence, conscious and compassion, to which must be added, courtesy.
At the end of 2007, John Kennedy will complete over 27 years as the founding Principal of Loyola College, Watsonia. He has overseen the growth of the school from a block of vacant land leased from the Society of Jesus and an initial group of 130 Year 7 students to the thriving multi-dimensional institution of 1000 students and 120 staff which it is today.
By 1985 as the first students reached Year 12, the roll already numbered 910. Gradually the demountables have departed and classrooms, chapel, library, science, physical education, music, dance and drama facilities have been established. As resources became available and opportunities arose buildings grew or were adapted. Ovals and outdoor courts were graded and sown or paved. Grounds landscaped and trees planted. A new library, canteen and food technology centre are coming soon.
The acquisition of the ‘institute’ building (the former Jesuit Novitiate and House of Studies and Retreats) and some surrounding land gave the College a ‘great leap forward’ and encouraged John to link his school with the Province’s previous ‘Loyolas’, reaching back via Watsonia 1934 to 1890 at Greenwich in Sydney.
As the school grew John drew support from and extended his influence into the wider world of Catholic education and education generally. He joined and accepted office-bearing positions in the Victorian and national Associations of Principals of Catholic Secondary Schools and the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia. He served on several Selection and Review Panels, the Grants Allocation Committee of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and in the sporting arena helped found the (Melbourne) Association of Co-Educational Schools (1998).
His net cast wide well before becoming Principal, serving in the Catholic Secondary Schools Association of NSW, the History Syllabus Committee (NSW), and in leadership of the Association of Teachers in Victorian Catholic Secondary Schools (1976-1980).
Fostering professional development and formal qualification has been a major concern of John’s both for other staff and for himself personally. After initial qualifications in Sydney he has completed B.Ed. and B.Theol. degrees and continues to pursue a Masters in Educational Leadership from the ACU. He has been a member of the Australian College of Education (since 1975) and the Australian Council of Educational Administration (1976). Ranging away from the classroom but feeling that it could enrich it, has been his involvement in the RAAF and Reserve, and his extensive overseas travel, off some of the well-beaten paths and often with members of his family.
The Ignatian influence on John began as a boy at St Aloysius, Milson’s Point, and continued during his six years at St Ignatius, Riverview (rising to Curriculum Co-Coordinator) when the Province was making its first serious systematic attempts to offer Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy to our lay staff. Further influence came in his first years in Melbourne as he served the Sisters of Charity as Deputy Principal at St Columba’s College.
The Province deeply appreciates John’s personal interest in so many of us, in all our activities (including Hazaribag), in his initiation of the weekly ‘Viewpoint’ at Riverview and convening its gold Cup Regatta for three years. The Province salutes his carrying of the Ignatian spirit and practice into one Catholic regional college (Loyola) and thereby setting a widely recognised model for fostering in such schools a spirituality associated with a founder of a religious congregation connected with the local origins of that school.
Michael Sweeney became part of the Maytime Fair family when he was a child. His father Frank and mother Molly were mission stalwarts during the early days of the Maytime Fair and from birth it was printed on Michael’s forehead that he would be forever involved in the Maytime Fair.
When he was a student at Xavier, Michael was always there for the Maytime Fair, but his involvement became crucial when he was chosen to run the Junior Carnival. Nobody really knows all the things that constitute the Junior Carnival. Suffice it to say that it is everything that makes the Maytime Fair the place for young people to be on the 1st Saturday in May. Michael ran all these events with youthful enthusiasm and quiet efficiency. How he did this when he was studying law at the university and beginning his work in the intense legal world of Melbourne, only he can tell.
Down through the years Michael has been director of the Junior Carnival, Chairman of the Maytime Fair Committee, and then President. This in spite of the fact that his law commitments took him to Japan for several years and more recently to West Australia. On top of all this, with real hospitality, Michael and Deborah, Alex, Milo and Julia have regularly opened the door of their Hawthorn home to Melbourne mission directors and visiting missionaries.
Five years ago when the Australian province of the Society of Jesus was called upon to extend its commitments beyond India to Cambodia, East Timor, Myanmar, China and Africa, Michael was one of those who opened his heart and his mind to the new challenge offered to the lay partners of the Australian Jesuits. As a founding member of the newly constituted Jesuit Mission Board he offered his wisdom and his expertise to realizing this new venture.
The Society of Jesus and Jesuit Mission owe a great deal to Michael for his colleagueship, for his extraordinary generosity of time, and his on-going commitment to those people in other corners of the world that are less privileged than us.