by ROWENA OREJANA
St Peter’s College principal Kieran Fouhy, soon to be St Paul’s College principal, has said that although he will bring a lot of his experiences to the latter school, his approach to running the next school won’t be to “cut and paste” from St Peter’s.
“Every community has its own culture and context. But I think I can take some things across,” he told his audience at the Catholic Community Network meeting at St Columba Centre in Ponsonby last month. Mr Fouhy, who has worked in Catholic boys’ education for 45 years, said there are three things he considers to be very important.
First of all, he said, the school should have a Catholic byline. “’Catholic School, Marist vision’, or something like that.”
He said the second is that there is no reason for all the boys in the college not to go to university.
Earlier in his talk, he said there are a lot of things that are not appealing to young men, which is why they may become disengaged, not finish their schooling and generally become missing in action.
“I’ve always believed routine and ritual builds character,” he said. One of Mr Fouhy’s favourite phrases is “character trumps achievement”.
“The other one I’ve learned is that you can trust boys, sometimes. But it’s the antidote to these boys’ toxin. Because in some ways, boys grow up thinking they are toxic,” he said. “If boys are told they are a problem, they will be a problem. The opposite is to say you trust them. And I actually learned over the years that you can trust them,” he added.
Mr Fouhy said he told the old boys at St Paul’s that his third important consideration is not enrolling students. “I said, that in 2016, we won’t enrol any students. And everyone stopped and looked.
“I said, no, we are only going to enrol families, including their sons. And that, of course, is what every Catholic school should do,” he explained.
Mr Fouhy said he hopes to bring integrity to the school.
At the network meeting, Mr Fouhy spoke about his family being his rock. With six daughters, he said with a grin, he was always in charge!
“My mantra was do whatever your mother tells you. Even when your mother is wrong, she is right. That’s family, that’s the rock by which I live my life,” he said.
He shared his daughters’ achievements, most of whom are also in Catholic education. His parents were also a deep source of inspiration. “Getting it all done, no frills, don’t trumpet your achievement, just do it; I took all those things from my parents,” he said.
Mr Fouhy also said he learned that his work is not just a career; it is a mission.
Catholic education, he said, is about “opening up your mind. It’s about learning that failure is real. It’s about prayer being normalised in everyday life. It’s about learning that faith is not a rule, but a lived experience. “And we belong to our tradition and mystery, which are bigger than us.”
by ROWENA OREJANA