18 June 2018

Dear Community

Welcome back to Winter Term. It is always reassuring to see our community return and gather together at the start of each term. As we all know the commencement of this term will be forever imprinted on our hearts and minds knowing that two valued members of the immediate Scotch College community, Mo Maslin (Year 7) and his Grandfather Nick Norris (OSC '63) did not return; sadly, nor did Mo's siblings, Evie and Otis.

Much has been said and written about this senseless loss of life resulting from the MH17 tragedy. When I first heard the news that our community had lost Mo and his Grandfather Nick, my first reaction was to ensure that notwithstanding how we were feeling as a College community, our first understanding must be that what transpired on that fateful day was a family tragedy of the highest order. The need to reach out and support was emphasised throughout our Chapel Services last week and exemplified through the lyrics of our chosen hymn 'Make me a Channel of your Peace':

Make me a Channel of your Peace

Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love,

Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord,

And where there's doubt, true faith in You

Make me a channel of your peace,

Where there's despair in life let me bring hope,

Where there is darkness - only light,

And where there's sadness, ever joy

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek,

So much to be consoled as to console,

To be understood, as to understand,

To be loved, as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

In giving to all men that we receive,

And in dying that we're born to eternal life

Make me a channel of your peace,

Gods gifts have come to you,

Now the sin has gone and cleared,

Jesus is living life on the cross

Oh master grant that I may never seek,

so much to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love with all my soul

The direct impact on Scotch was the loss of Mo and Nick, however, Scotch College values and understands what the family unit truly means and on reflecting upon this we had to come to the realisation that we had also lost part of our extended family community in Otis who was coming to Scotch in 2018 and Evie Maslin. The role we must play now is to offer the Maslin and Norris families our spiritual, physical and emotional support into the future. In particular our thoughts and prayers are with the parents of Mo, Evie and Otis, Rin and Anthony Maslin. All of us who are parents will never be able to understand what the families have experienced and the challenging journey that lies before them. As a College of the Uniting Church in Australia we must place our trust in the Christian message of hope as told through the gospels.

The family have organised a Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving for their family and close friends on Sunday 3 August in the Dickinson Centre.

The College has arranged for two books of remembrance to be available for signing. One will be located at the Middle School office and the other one will be in reception at Collegians House. These will both be available from Tuesday until close of the offices Friday.

It is very hard to find words that can truly reflect what has occurred and how to find a way forward. As such I simply wish to leave the community with a simple reflection that in some small way may help some of us to conceptualise what we have all experienced.

The Footprints Prayer

One night I had a dream...

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, You would walk with me all the way; But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, There is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.

As a Headmaster, and more importantly as a parent myself, I will never be the same as a result of what has taken place through this global tragedy. As we keep our families close to our hearts I remind us all to remember and pray for all of the victims of MH17 and their families.

Rest in peace, Mo, Evie, Otis and Nick.

Dr Alec O'Connell