It was a long-overdue community celebration as The Visitor, The Right Revd Dr Steve Moreo, Bishop of Johannesburg, visited to install Mr Lester Lalla as the 11th Headmaster of St John’s Preparatory.
He also took the opportunity to bless the magnificent new Prep building that opened its classroom doors to our boys at the start of the year.
The event was attended by Prep boys and staff, former Headmaster Mr Patrick Lees, council members and friends of St John's. The boys entertained special guests with marimba and orchestra performances and their wonderful singing voices in the choir.
Bishop Steve, Mrs Höck, Mr West, Mr Lees, Council, invited guests, staff and boys - I greet you warmly this morning.
I am grateful to have members of my family here this morning to witness this special occasion.
I want to acknowledge the presence of Mike Workman who was Headmaster of the Preparatory from 1996 - 2010. Your attendance this morning is most appreciated.
Dr Pretorious, who is present here this morning, tells the story of Fr Cyprian Rudolph who was sent to St John’s College in 1916, at a time when it was under the charge of the Community of the Resurrection. To him is due much credit for beautifying the College grounds by starting gardens, planting trees and adorning the buildings with artworks.
During a particularly hot and dry summer in the early 1920s, a young staff member approached Fr Rudolph, who was standing with a watering can at the young oak trees he had planted to the north of the Prep courtyard. ‘Father,’ the staff member asked, ‘why don’t you plant something fast-growing, such as wattles and blue-gums which will give us shade and shelter in a very short time?’ To which Fr Cyprian replied: ‘Young man, I am not planting for myself.’
This world-class facility is the realisation of part of the College’s 2023 Strategic Plan, thereby propelling us forward and securing the future of St John’s for coming generations of Johannians.
Through the explicit and implicit instruction that occurs in this building, we are developing young men of courage, compassion and capacity, to engage a complex world.
Like the apex branches of the oak trees around us, we aspire to elevated heights of educational excellence, yet our roots go deep on this ridge. We are grounded in our Anglican Heritage, we are grounded in dignity and belonging, we are grounded in values and service.
As part of a larger unit of work, Mrs Baker has provided each of our boys with a shoe disk which serves as a daily reminder of our groundedness and the call to walk the talk.
Patrick, 1934 the Community of the Resurrection announced its decision to hand control of St John’s College back to the Diocese of Johannesburg. The Father Superior of the Community, Fr Edward Keble Talbot, wrote: ‘There must be sadness in surrendering so glorious an institution as St John’s. But it accords well with the purposes for which we exist, that we should pioneer in fields which can later be cultivated by others, and that they should harvest what we have tried to sow.’
I thank you for your tremendous contribution to this beautiful facility.
- To the Council of St John’s for your vision and commitment to the future of this College.
- To the Finance Committee chaired by Mike Brown for your passion for St John’s.
- To the Building Committee chaired by Berto De Gouveia for the many hours, you poured into this facility.
- The architect and principle agent Mark Penchartz for his bold and forward-thinking design.
- To Gothic Construction and the entire professional team for your commitment to providing our boys with a world-class facility.
I extend my profound thanks to the school-based team for their tireless dedication to the project.
- Dave Vermuelen
- Cliff Midgley
- Peter Henning
- Jon Gunning
- Alan Duncan and the countless individuals who played a part in the realisation of the dream.
I conclude this address this morning with the words Father Nash penned in 1906. I offer it as a prayer as well as a tribute to our rich heritage and aspiration:
Lord God our Father,
who art light and life and love,
look down in love upon our College of Saint John:
make it to be a home of religious discipline,
sound learning and good will,
which may send forth many rightly trained in body,
mind and character to serve Thee well in Church and State:
supply our wants, and give us increase as shall seem Thee good,
and let Thine angels drive away all evil from us:
through Thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
- Mr Lester Lalla, 11th Headmaster of St John's Preparatory