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Congratulations to Jack Bowen (OX 1962), who was awarded the prestigious Xaverian Award for 2016 during this week's Rector's Assembly.
“The award goes to a past student who has shown a deep commitment to the ideals of St Ignatius of Loyola. Primarily amongst these ideals is a generosity of spirit manifested in a dedication to making a difference in the wider community, through compassion, competence and conscience – a person who has shown a willingness over a sustained period of time to share his God-given gifts with others.
This is a highly prestigious award, valued by this school community, not necessarily given to someone who has achieved success, but rather to one who has also lived a life, no matter how simply, for others…”
Our principal Dr Chris Hayes, introduced Mr Jack Bowen as "a member of the Class of ’62, we take great pride in all that he has achieved, originally as a student at the College, later as a highly successful businessman and then across all of the intervening years in his rich family life, years hallmarked by a generosity of spirit, a determination to be of service and to make a difference." He was also School Captain in his final year at the College, 1962.
Mr Bowen is part of the family that established the prominent Melbourne building and hardware supplier Bowens, where he was Managing Director for many years, since relinquishing the position to his sons. He has continued to play a major role in the Xavier community, including as a player, but also president of the Old Xaverians' Football Club, a member of the Xavier College Foundation and School Council, and also as a recent president of the Old Xaverians' Association. He has given generously to the Football Club and the College over many years.
We thank him for his generous contribution to society and the life of the College community over many years.
He gave a speech during the Rector's Assembly to the entire Senior Campus student body, about living a 'Life for Others', which is provided below.
Living a ’Life for Others’
Living a ’Life for Others’ and being a ’Man for Others’ started at school for me through the great friendships that have lasted throughout my 73 years. And by the way, I am no more a ’Man for Others’ than most people who have frequented this Great Hall, past and present.
For me, I think it started from being a ’friend to others’, and there is no better place to develop lifelong friendships than at school — and for you boys it starts now, but even potentially from your first day at Xavier.
I absolutely treasure those school mates who remain my friends today. But picking the right friends is the first important start one must make. The friends from school, from university, and from the workplace. I didn’t go to university, so I missed that opportunity to create friends, but I did develop friendships within the workplace and beyond Xavier. The Old Xaverians’ Football Club has certainly played its part for me and kept my school friendships intact, but also introduced me to Xaverians from earlier years. The football club continues to remain an important part of my Xavier connection.
So my Xavier friends were important at the start of school and remain important to this day. I mentioned this at the Class of 2015’s One-Year Reunion that the Old Xaverians’ Association hosted a couple of months ago. My point to them was that now they have left school and as they take on more study, or maybe an apprenticeship, then a job, marriage, parenthood and beyond, that they will have a lot of great times, but some parts of their journey may not always be easy. And that is when their friendships become really important. That is when friends really become men for others, men for you and you for them.
Developing close friendships, or even just casual friendships, is a great pathway to this idea of a ’Life for Others’. Through friends, we meet more and more people, and through a wider group of acquaintances the opportunities to provide and seek support are never ending. We need to continue to be aware of the people around us, the world around us and the needs of others. However, sometimes it can be hard to look beyond the ‘self’ because of personal hurdles and the need to occasionally concentrate on some self-preservation. Again, that’s when ’friends’ should be there, and can be called on if needed.
My lack of academic ability (maybe effort?) at school has certainly helped me with friendships — when one spends 14 years at the same school you going to end up with a lot of mates! I started at Kostka Hall in Year 1 in 1948 — when you’ve been around an establishment (like Xavier) for too many years you may end up being rewarded (like today) — you know, ’Give him an award and we might finally get rid of him.’ I was made School Captain in 1962 because I was nearly older than some of the staff! I’m sure Fr Keenan, the Rector and Principal at the time, said to my parents, "We will make Jack school captain if you promise not to return him to Xavier next year!”
Xavier in the 1960s was a great period as far as I was concerned. I want to give credit to the Jesuits during my time at Xavier who, I think, encouraged my vintage to be ‘Men for Others’. Frs Paul Keenan, Jim Hawkins, Peter Quin, Barry Leonard and Paddy Stephenson were outstanding men who were certainly a great influence (together with a number of lay teachers) on my life and the life of my friends. Just for interest, we have today at Xavier College one lone Jesuit — Fr Chris Middleton — while back in 1962 there were 20 Jesuits and 18 lay teachers. So Chris is doing a great job with no Jesuit friends alongside him at a much larger school! Times have certainly changed.
Can I say again, boys, your friendships start here; your opportunity to help others, including your friends, starts here and will hopefully be part of your generous self for years to come.
My main opportunity to (hopefully) be a ‘Man for Others’ continues through my years of employing many people in a family business. A wonderful opportunity to truly reach out to others and provide a happy and safe workplace, a fair and ethical workplace, and an opportunity to nurture unrealised and realised talent. To see people ’blossom’ in the workplace is a great thrill — to see people reach their potential, whether it be to drive a truck well and deliver our products to sites on time and in full (as we say), sell our products or manage a branch of the company. Just helping people achieve their potential is certainly living a ’Life for Others’.
The opportunity to create an environment that brings some workplace satisfaction to people and provide opportunities has been a blessing. Our family has tried hard to create a culture that is inclusive and one that champions our employees’ expectations both within the workplace and within the community at large.
Hopefully, all students in this Great Hall will one day have the chance to be an influence for good on others — to prove to yourselves that living a life for others is worthwhile and one that also brings personal satisfaction. It is a privilege to be a part of Xavier – please make the most of it!
Boys, it’s a privilege to be a part of Xavier. Please make the most of it!