The guiding hand of tradition

As CBC Fremantle enters a new period of change, with campus improvements and refurbishing of our buildings affecting almost every corner of the College, we are making sure that we maintain a strong connection to our traditions.

"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire."

– Gustav Mahler

It is a loaded word – tradition – bearing the weight of beliefs, customs and heritage from the past. It feels immune to change, discouraging new ways and ideas, and yet tradition has the capacity to be powerful and inspirational. Tradition is never done; it is always in change, but conversely it offers a source of stability. It can bestow a sense of security and help form the structure and foundation of our social groups and communities.

Traditions are specific events and practices generated from intrinsic beliefs and customs that help us to share our history, values and stories. There are countless ways that traditions can be initiated and maintained, but they are more valid and valuable if they are genuine. By providing representations of what we believe and do, traditions contribute to our culture. They offer an opportunity for the past to live through us, connecting generations, strengthening group bonds and helping us to feel that we are part of something special. As we honour traditions, so we learn to value ourselves and each other.

According to Saul Levine, Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry at the University of California, tradition helps us achieve the 'Four Bs'.

Being – a sense of inner peace and self acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses and feeling grounded in our core identity.

Belonging – a sense of comfort from being part of a group of people who share our values and provide support, respect and fellowship.

Believing – a need to believe in a system of principles and behaviour, be that religious or secular.

Benevolence – a predisposition to be helpful and enhance the lives of others.

Negative association with tradition could be attributed to the early 20th century when there were massive social and industrial changes in the western world. Tradition was no longer viewed as valuable and valid, but rather as belonging to an era that was rife with social constraints, oppression and lack of freedom. Yet many aspects of our lives would be severely curtailed without tradition. Important and much-loved events like Christmas, rites of passage ceremonies like weddings, thought provoking observances like memorial days, simple and beautiful gestures that celebrate our loved ones, special acknowledgements of excellence and endeavour, and many other reminders of our shared humanity – traditions can give meaning and reverence to our ordinary lives and provide rich and inspiring experiences that make up the fabric of our memories.

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CBC Fremantle has the benefit of an abundance of traditions that are fundamental to our values. As a Catholic school in the tradition of Edmund Rice, the CBC community appreciates the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, faithfully handed down through each generation in writing and by word of mouth, and celebrated with rituals of comfort and sanctuary in communion with God. Christ is the living lens through which these traditions are experienced, providing a spiritual and moral compass for all of our human relationships, and ultimately the development of a more loving and just society.

Blessed Edmund Rice was inspired by Christ; his supernatural grace was expressed as a very hands-on mission to change the lives of any boy from any background for the better. As a man of deep faith, Edmund Rice charged his schools with an incredible vision of a world that offers everybody the opportunity to flourish and where the teachings of Christ are at the centre of everything. His legacy and tradition are succinctly captured and handed down by the Edmund Rice Education Australia Touchstones that CBC embraces – Liberating Education, Gospel Spirituality, Inclusive Community and Justice and Solidarity.

These foundations gathered under one roof more than a century ago when the Christian Brothers took over the running of the local parish school from the Oblate Priests of St Patrick's in Fremantle. Since those austere and humble beginnings, CBC has drawn on the old and also forged new traditions that have evolved with changing times and periods of transition. Concrete evidence of tradition like the Honour Boards and graduation book with signatures that date back to the College's earliest days is one thing, but the intangible ones remain just as legitimate. Conversations with alumni highlight that cultural and social phenomenon played a part in creating new sporting and academic traditions, in particular, and the most potent remain those that have a strong connection to the College's intrinsic and specific values – faith, justice, excellence, community and compassion.

While CBC has many traditions, it is the customs that bring our community together that are the most powerful expression of our values. The College's Opening Mass at the beginning of every year is more than a declaration of our faith tradition, it is also a celebration of our kinship and connection.

Welcoming our new boys at the commencement of their journey with the Year 12 guard of honour is a tradition at CBC that was initiated in 2007 by Mr Darren O'Neill. The gesture is bookended by a similar ceremony at the end of the year when our graduands have their final College assembly, prompting reflection on their journey to adulthood. These traditions are rites of passage events articulating a complex narrative that goes straight to the heart of the message. You cannot be present at these beautiful ceremonies without gaining a deeper understanding of CBC Fremantle.

Keeping the College's traditions alive can radically contribute towards the making of a better tomorrow and transform our own evolution as a community.

If tradition were a building, it might look exactly like our beautiful old original school hall, which is undergoing professional stripping of decades of render, revealing the original limestone underneath. Tuckpointing, new Celtic crosses on the roof and even demolishing the storeroom that was added on the eastern side is bringing Blessed Edmund Chapel back to a stunning re-enactment of its 1882 glory. Heritage listed and a shining beacon on one of the major roads into the historic town of Fremantle, the Chapel highlights the faith and fellowship tradition of our College.

Further building works may change the superficial face of our pocket of history, providing better movement around campus and bringing our classrooms into a 21st century learning experience, but some things will never change. The traditions of one of the oldest schools in Western Australia – the faith values and far-reaching excellence and achievements of our alumni who have contributed to the development of Western Australia; the sleeves rolled up ethos of our port city working men; the world-changing contributions of our graduates in the fields of mathematics, technology and science; the courage and inspiration of our performing arts professionals; the brilliance of the lateral-thinking businessmen who put Perth on the map, and the goodness and fairness of our graduates who have served in their communities with incredible charity for more than a century – this is the result of our traditions.

Keeping the College's traditions alive can radically contribute towards the making of a better tomorrow and transform our own evolution as a community. In this way, CBC draws on its traditions to guide our community through the contemporary challenges that face our world, providing a very real sense of identity and purpose.

CBC Fremantle thanks our past students and staff for keeping our traditions alive and helping us to belong to a rich history and exciting future.