The global missionary focus of the Servite Order continues as local Servite College students reconnected with their spiritual roots, and with it found a deeper connection to their faith, writes school principal
Dr Philip Cox.
When St Philip’s regional boys high school was opened in 1958, a group of young Servite Friars had travelled from Chicago and prepared the groundwork for a new boys’ school in the northern suburbs of Perth, at the request of the bishop of the day.
Fifty years later that same school had developed into a major college serving both young men and women in the Tuart Hill area under the name Servite College.
The young Servite Friars who had originally left their home in the US to teach in Perth were part of a global order of men whose origins date back to 1233 and who have a world-wide reputation of service to the poor, parishes and the young through education.
Today, Servite College is the only school in Australia run by the Servite Friars.
The international Servite mission continues as, in recent years, principals of Servite schools throughout the world have established the International Servite Schools Network to boost links between the Servite schools around the world.
I have helped establish links with two Servite Schools in the USA – Servite High in Anaheim, California and Marian High in Omaha, Nebraska.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the College and to more strongly forge the links with the International Servite Schools Network, the concept of a World Pilgrimage was conceived and planned. Four students and two staff began their Pilgrimage on December 26, 2008.
The pilgrimage incorporated three core aspects of the Servite Order: Service to others (Servite Missions in India), the Servite spiritual centres (Servite Priories in Florence, Rome, Sienna, London and Chicaqo) and education (schools in London, Omaha and Anaheim).
The pilgrimage was not just a tour of special Servite places. Each student was required to complete a series of reflection papers focusing on the journey the Seven Holy Founders began in Florence in 1233 and ending with the foundation of Servite College in Perth 725 years later.
The art traces a 700 year history as significant arts were attracted to this holy place to create a piece that glorified God, Mary or significant saints.
The pilgrim students then visited the spiritual centre of the Servite Order – Monte Senario. This mountain top monastery houses many of the Servite relics including the relics of the Seven Holy Founders. After a personal tour of the monastery the Pilgrims enjoyed lunch with the Friars.
The hospitality of the Servites was repeated time and again at each of the priories and convents visited. The days, meals and evenings spent staying with the Frairs in Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica was one of the highlights of the Pilgrimage.
Our Lady of Sorrows is the Mother House of the Australian Servites and so holds a special place in the hearts of those at Tuart Hill.
One of the students wrote in her journal that she hoped to better understand the history and charisms of the Servite Order and share that understanding with others at school. She said the pilgrimage would give her an appreciation of the world wide nature of the Servite order and better appreciate the varying cultures and lives of young Servites throughout the world.
After visiting the Servite holy places the students attended Servite schools for two weeks in Omaha, Nebraska and Anaheim, California.
The friendships formed during these visits will last a lifetime and will form the basis of future return visits to Australia by our new friends from London and America.