On the 22nd of February, the Year 12 leaders travelled to Penrith for the ‘Lifted Leaders’ Day, hosted by the Parramatta Diocese. This provided us with the opportunity to articulate our own plans and initiatives implemented at our respective schools and also garner some diverse ideas from other leaders. Throughout the day, we were required to participate in some ‘icebreaker’ activities, present in front of over 100 people, and ultimately, leave our comfort zone by splitting up and conversing with complete strangers. In doing so, our understanding and perception of what it is to be a leader, was broadened through our encounters with others and gleaning the different approaches other students had in engaging the school community.
Inspirational speaker, ordained Priest and singer/songwriter Father Rob Galea also joined us on the day, to bravely share his adverse experiences, especially as a teenager. He explained how his childhood in Malta, was plagued with alcohol, drugs, violence and partying on the account of lenient legislations, the desire to conform and the individuals he surrounded himself with. Drowning in a sea of adversity, an attempt to perhaps emerge from the currents was introduced in the form of a youth group. Despite his initial tentativeness and lack of enthusiasm, the atmosphere and positive energy from his fellow youth group attendees enticed him to contact God. Consequently, every night, he would place a chair in front of him, and talk to it, as though he were talking to God. In spite of his dwindling faith, a figure of a person appeared on the chair, whom he discerned as God. From that day forward, he devoted his life to serving others, lifting people in his former situation out of darkness and informing others about God’s unconditional love.
Fr Rob Galea’s story invites us to reflect on the difficulties of being a leader. It would be so easy to spiral into negative habits and acquiesce to society’s notions of ‘popularity’ or what is ‘fashionable’. But being a leader is to not stand in the crowd, but to walk in front of it, and guide it to a harmonious destination. In saying so, it is okay to make mistakes along the way. We are not programmed to be perfect beings, but when we stray away, so long as we return back to where we are meant to lead from, the fault is forgiven. Those who attended the day have had their eyes undoubtedly opened to the harsh realities of life, however, have been enlightened to the power of believing, taking action and being brave enough to speak.