St Leo's College - your new home on campus

Newsletter 3 - 2023

September 22, 2023

Dear Parents of St Leo’s Residents

By way of introduction, my name is Peter Arena, I am the newly appointed Marketing, Communications & Advancement Manager here at St Leo’s College. Moving forward, I’ll be taking over the quarterly newsletters from Steve Foley. I appreciate the opportunity to have a direct line of contact with you.

I’ve been in this role now for just four months, I already feel like a longstanding Leo’s staff member - part old boy, and ALL Phantom. My professional background has been quite diverse with marketing/communication roles at Levi’s®, Melbourne & Olympic Parks, and most recently RSPCA Victoria. Coming into the college space has been quite an exciting new challenge, and I see huge opportunity in this role and for the College.

Term three is ending at the same fast pace it started – at lightning speed. During semester break, the College played proud host to Catholic priests from all over Queensland as they undertook a course in Acculturation. Leo’s greatly values the relationship with each of the five Dioceses of Queensland and was proud to sponsor the event.

During the break, we also had the honour of hosting a luncheon for the remarkable Tommy Nyawir – an African speaker and social justice champion. Residents were invited along to hear Tommy share the extraordinary story of how a stranger changed his life before Tommy founded Mirror of Hope C.B.O., a community-based organisation offering education, care and support to vulnerable women, youth and children in the Kibera slum in Nairobi Kenya. Mirror of Hope equips women with business-skills training and supports them transitioning back to fully independent lives.

As the new term began and our Residents returned from break, they were welcomed by “E Week”. There appears to be endless social activities on offer during this period, with perhaps the most anticipated event being the Leo’s Ball.  Full credit to the Student Club for delivering such a successful night. If you haven’t already seen pics from the night, you can check a few of them our on our Facebook page, here. Our Leonians sure do scrub up well, and what a fine group of gentlemen they are

UQ Open Day took place the following Sunday and the opportunity to show some potential Leonians around the College grounds was welcomed by Residents and Staff alike. We had quite a few Residents volunteer their time as guides for the day, and a highlight for me was seeing them interact with the families and the genuinely positive and unscripted things they were saying about their home. All the young men involved did an impressive and outstanding job.

Next up we had the Duhig Lecture and Dinner - an annual event which honours Archbishop Sir James Duhig, the late Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane and major benefactor of our College. Archbishop Duhig was closely associated with the University of Queensland, serving on the Senate for over 50 years. Every year brings a new guest speaker and on this occasion we were delighted to host the Hon Karen Andrews MP.

This event marked the first time I got to see the dining room set up for a formal dinner, and what an impressive sight it was. Mrs Andrews delivered an insightful speech which highlighted her own “personal quest to contribute to the great Australian story”. For those interested, Mrs Andrews’ speech can be found on our website here.

Other highlights of the evening included our First Year Resident Sterling Rieck, performing Cello Suite No.2 (Prelude) by Bach on the viola. Just WOW. Sterling’s musical performance left many of us amazed and made me question whether or not I’ve left it too late to study viola. And in what I understand to be a tradition at the end of every event here at Leo’s, the evenings are closed with a joke by the Student Club’s President. On this occasion we had Student Club Vice-President Harry Packwood standing in for Ed Ryan, doing the honours. The reaction Harry evoked from the other residents through their roaring and applause, almost brought the house down.

Our Fathers’ Day Barbecue saw us welcome dads and families from various parts of Queensland, interstate and on this occasion, New Zealand. It was a good day with perfect weather and was great to meet a few of you. That same afternoon was the annual Francis and Kassulke Cup against King’s College, a rivalry dating all the way back to 1920. Unfortunately, we suffered a loss to King’s, with the final score being 28 - 12. Although it wasn’t the result we’d hoped for, a few post-match beers and stories with some of our old boys back at the Snakepit, was the perfect antidote.

The last couple of weeks has seen Glen Cronan and Michael Bongers busily interviewing candidates for our nine Residential Assistant (RA) appointments. The appointments have now been made, and congrats to those who were appointed.  At the risk of sounding cliched, from what I understand, the standard of applicants for the RA positions truly were at an all-time high and made for some incredibly tough decisions. I believe Steve will be announcing all leaders for next year to the College community once the Students’ Club vote to elect its Executive for 2024.

In a collaborative effort between Harry Packwood, Student Club Vice President and Michael Bongers, Dean of Students, on Tuesday 12 September, Leo’s hosted a highly successful networking evening for Residents. The event aimed to bridge the gap between academia and industry by bringing together Leo’s alumni from various fields to interact with Residents, sharing valuable insights from their respective careers. We were incredibly pleased with the final turnout and by all accounts, the evening was a huge success. We look forward to building upon the experience next year.

And in what might be a Leo’s-unique-event, on Sunday 17 September, First Year Resident Mac Rogers SMASHED the Guinness World Record for most muscle-ups completed on gymnastics rings within a 24 hour period, as well as raising over $5,000 for charity.

“What a tremendous effort! Mac is living Leo’s values, living the Leo’s way of life - striving for excellence with humility and connectedness,” said Steve Foley.

Mac began his attempt at 2pm, Saturday 16 September, surpassing the previous record of 1,136 at 12:25pm the following day, with the final number of muscle-ups landing at an outstanding 1,308. I wish each of you could have experienced the unwavering support and camaraderie pulsating throughout the College over the weekend. The additional strength Mac was able to draw from his Leonian brothers was undeniable, and the deep bond shared by these young men was patently clear. I’d also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge another First Year, Oscar Hill, who stayed with Mac the entire time. Another strong example of living the Leo’s values.

Walking into an all-male residential College had me somewhat uncertain about what to expect. What I’ve discovered is a remarkable community of young men and an incredibly dedicated team of Staff who are committed to ensuring all residents here feel safe, supported and equipped with what they need to live their best lives.

Perfection is subjective and rarely attainable (we’ve all had our moments), so I’m under no illusion that the lives each of your sons lead here is perfect. However, I can confidently say since I’ve been at Leo’s, I have encountered some exceptional individuals and I’m pleased to report that (so-far) no Resident whom I’ve encountered is anything like I was at their age.

In keeping with Steve’s tradition, as I sign off, I encourage you to reach out anytime and share your thoughts with us. What can we do better? Do you know something we don’t that is impacting your son’s experience here? Please don’t hesitate to contact us. Good or bad, the St Leo’s Staff are here for it all. Of course, if you think there are things we are doing right and the opportunity presents itself, please tell your friends and relatives, especially those with school leaving aged sons.

I’m looking forward to meeting more of you and continuing this dialogue in the future.

With best wishes

Peter Arena

Marketing, Communications & Advancement Manager

St Leo’s College, Within The University of Queensland

Download a copy of the newsletter here

Guest luncheon: Stephen Zhang, Stirling Rieck, Duchenese College Resident, Guest Speaker Tommy Nyawir, Aman Gupta and Rohan Kumar

The Hon Karen Andrews MP, who delivered the Duhig Lecture 2023

Stirling Rieck’s musical Interlude at the Duhig Lecture

Harry Packwood closing the Duhig Lecture

UQ Open Day: Grady McKay, Conor Keohane and Justin Russo

Fathers’ Day BBQ: Jack Algie with parents Paul and Jennifer (left) and Jackson Foort with dad Reece (right)

Mac Rogers closing in on the Guinness World Record

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St Leo's College - your new home on campus
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