The joy of a son

It has been a busy week for our Year 9 Rite Journey students as they near the completion of a watershed year in their journey towards tomorrow's gentlemen. It is a poignant moment for the Rite Journey teachers too, as they take part in this incredibly special part of a young man's life - the transition from boyhood to manhood.

As I soak my feet and recover after the physically challenging and spiritually rewarding experience in the golden fields of Bindoon, I think back on the Graduation evening a few weeks ago and reflect on the fine young men who year after year honour us with their journey. Following is the speech I made that evening, and I preface it with a heartfelt thank you to our wonderful community. Without you, there is nothing.

Tonight is a special moment. A past gives way to a future. Tinges of sadness with glimmers of hope and excitement. The CBC gentleman is hopefully formed, and if not fully formed, then fully informed. Before I direct a very succinct message of attempted wisdom to the graduating class, I want to spend a few moments speaking to you, the parents. I want to take you down memory lane and hopefully bring back some of the joys that your son has provided you in the past 18 years or so. I hope your imagination and emotions flow freely, because what I have to say to the boys will be enhanced if they feel the power of your love, devotion, hope, dreams and aspirations for them.

So mums, dads, take your son by the hand and remember.

Remember where you were and how you heard you were having a son.

Remember the morning sickness, the miracle growing inside of his mum, the scans, the first heartbeat, the first kick and first turn.

Remember when he announced his arrival, the trip to the hospital, the wait, the labour, the birth, the first scream, the realisation you had a son. Remember his journey to your first embrace how he latched on and suckled for the first time. How little were his hands, fingers, feet and toes? How he was entirely helpless, vulnerable and totally dependent on your love and care.

Remember the joy of his first sleep through and the stress of his quietness during the night.

Remember where you were when he first smiled. When he first said mamma or daddy. His first rollover, his first commando crawl. Remember when he first stood up. Took his first steps.

Remember his special moments as a toddler, learning to navigate the house independently, saying particular words with a cuteness that still brings a smile to your face. Remember that first time someone else looked after him. His first day at Kindy. His first day at school.

Remember the despair of the first time he felt pain. The first time another child was nasty to him. The rage you felt. Remember his first certificate, his first sporting team, his first sweetheart.

Remember how quickly he grew, how handsome he was becoming. Remember his innocence.

Remember when you stood on the balcony behind me and watched him being clapped in by a guard of honour, and how just a month ago you watched him march out, tall, proud and mature.

The reason I wanted to take you down this memory lane is because I believe only a parent can ever understand what it means to love completely, selflessly and unconditionally. My experience is that only a parent loves without any pretense of a reciprocal reward. And yet, I know how a child can inadvertently and unintentionally break a parent's heart.

So with that in mind I want to save my last words for the young gentlemen gathered here tonight. I'm supposed to provide some pearl of wisdom that gives you the key to life's success. The reality is, despite my daily big noting, I'm not that clever. I'm not that deep. And none of the great graduation speeches I have Googled made sense to someone as obtuse as me. So what do I have left? I guess something very basic. Something I would have wanted someone to say to my children. Something that would mean the world to me if my children heeded the message. So here it is.

One day you may choose fatherhood. When that day comes, I hope you are blessed with overwhelming joy and happiness. The wonderful moments as a parent often paper over the cracks of anxiety that parents feel. The greatest fear of any parent is that their heart is broken. Hope and pray your child never breaks your heart. In the meantime, feel the emotions your parents felt tonight and make a promise that you will do everything possible to bring an abundance of never-ending joy into your parent's lives. Make sure all your decisions are good ones. Make sure they are based on Gospel Values, they reflect your best, that you are able to account for your decisions, and others are at the centre of your lives. If you do this, I am pretty sure I can make some assurances. I can assure that you will be well on the way to providing your parents the greatest gift of all - a man they can be justifiably proud of to call son. Thank you and God bless you all.

Mr Domenic Burgio