The Annual Report and Accounts, including the agenda for the Stonyhurst Association AGM to be held at Stonyhurst, on Friday 24th May 2019 at 4.30pm is available by clicking the link below;
President’s Report 2018 – 2019
It was an unexpected and humbling experience to receive a gentle tap on the shoulder from Nick King SJ towards the end of 2017 nominating me as President (2018-2019) given the distinguished record of recent incumbents in the post- Terry Holt, Robert Brinkley, and not least my enduring spiritual mentor, Nick himself.
It was also a challenge. The job description had its terms of reference loosely defined, the role being broadly stated as the public face of the Association tasked with trying to enhance its public reputation and recognition. There have been other Burns at Stonyhurst-including two uncles-one a missionary Jesuit priest (George), and a Black Watch officer (David) killed in WW1 and commemorated in the College’s war memorial. And yet I if I was to take on the unpaid job with a one year time limit set by others, it was not for the title, or to rest on ancestral or professional laurels, but to try and help make a positive contribution to developing an Ignatius ethos, respecting how things had been done before, but not shirking from attempting to shake up what needed to change, breaking down silos, and improving communications and transparency.
I owe a debt to two towering personal influences on me, my OS father Tom Burns OS 1928 a former Editor of The Tablet and Pope Francis, each of whom, in the spirit of Vatican 2, and the Jesuit charism, have taught me that our Faith cannot be separated from our engagement with the world, seeking God in all Things, building bridges not walls.
The more immediate test run for my Presidency had me sharing my admiration for Pope Francis as his biographer-his compassionate and reforming spirit, his reaching out to the marginalised, his Christian ecology, in talks to staff , parents and pupils at the College and meetings with several Jesuits around the world. Having Francisco bless myself and my wife Kidge on our 40th anniversary of marriage celebration in Rome last May energised me for the year ahead. As did consciousness of the historic links the College has with the Spanish speaking world. My Anglo Spanish blood (I was born to a Spanish mother), flowed naturally towards setting up a Friends of Stonyhurst in Spain Facebook site, organising an OS reunion in Toledo and Madrid in September 2018, and an Ignatian pilgrimage to Catalonia during Lent 2019.
Enduring loyalty had me promoting and volunteering as a Brancardier the Lourdes pilgrimage last summer and this upcoming one, while also encouraging pupils and young and old OS not to shy away from other projects working for social justice and embracing the ecological spirit of Laudato Si in spirit and action to transform our society and save our planet.
Tradition dictated that I presided over the annual Association dinner. I did so at Stonyhurst in October 2018, with the current Tablet editor Brendan Walsh as a thought provoking guest speaker, and the event providing an opportunity to reach out across ages and continents, including several OS of my generation who had disconnected with the school since leaving it. I was delighted that the occasion was not only was convivial but also worthwhile, raising funds for Jesuit Missions at the Sunday collection and helping forge an ongoing partnership between Stonyhurst and The Tablet.
In December 2018 I represented the Association at the Stonyhurst carol service in Farm Street and in March 2019 hosted a brainstorming Stonyhurst Association ‘425’ Convivial Dinner at the Garrick Club for key stake holders of the Stonyhurst family, and other guests to pose the question :whither Catholic education? The discerning spirit of the evening , well summarised by one of the young OS present, was that while we were a community and a network with a shared education, spirituality and ethos, we needed to maintain an explicit focus on mission and be open to new avenues. As our guest speaker Fr Damian Howard reminded us, the present and future includes a joint effort of Jesuits and lay people, many of them employed, even more fulfilling various voluntary functions in responding to God’s love for a broken world.
We made some small, discreet but not insignificant steps towards assisting others in need, including the support for the pilgrimage in Spain, an additional £5,000 benevolent grant from the President’s Fund, and support for the American Collegium Scholar who will be working with Jan Graffius, the College Curator later this year.
Fr Damian and Jan are among several people whose counsel and advice I have hugely valued, former Presidents, our Chairman Simon Andrews, the College’s Director of Strategic Development Stephen Withnell, Headmaster John Browne and Lay Chaplain Catherine Hanley along with other College staff members, pupils, and OS and members of the Association Committee. A warm thanks to the Office Manager Beverley Sillitoe for her tireless admin support throughout the year.
Together we have tried to make progress in improving over the last year how the Association communicates not just with alumni but with other parts of the Stonyhurst family. There is a great deal more to do but I am sure that my successor Tim Livesey will keep the Association moving forward in the right direction.
Jimmy Burns OBE OS 71
The Annual Report and Accounts for 2017 is available by clicking the link below;
President’s Report 2017 – 2018
It was an unexpected honour to be asked to be President of the Stonyhurst Association. Stonyhurst has played a hugely important part in my life. Coming from a naval family, which was constantly on the move, I was the first in my family to go away to school and to university. Stonyhurst nurtured my faith in Christ and gave me great opportunities.
In those days Stonyhurst was a boys’ boarding school, with a large Jesuit community. Since then my three sons have been at the College, and my wife has been a governor. We have witnessed the College’s transformation into a successful co-educational school for both boarding and day pupils.
What makes Stonyhurst different from other schools is its Jesuit ethos, formed over the course of more than four hundred years. In recent times much good work has been done to help everyone at the College to understand and sustain the Jesuit ethos. But there is now only one Jesuit at Stonyhurst, Father Tim Curtis SJ, who ministers to St Joseph’s, Hurst Green, St Peter’s parish and St Mary’s Hall as well as the College. In my view, a continuing and reinforced Jesuit presence at Stonyhurst is vital. To offset the declining number of Jesuits in the English province, I hope it will be possible to invite Jesuits from other provinces, blessed with more manpower, to spend time at Stonyhurst.
The highlight of my year as President was the annual dinner on 17 November at Mercers’ Hall in London, on the site where St Thomas Becket was born. The guest of honour was Bishop Borys Gudziak, who ministers to Ukrainian Greek-Catholics in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland. He is also President of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), and has been a big influence in my life over the past fifteen years. After the end of the Soviet Union, he went to Ukraine and built up UCU from nothing to become one of Ukraine’s best universities, a beacon of high academic and moral standards. This is a vivid example of what can be achieved when there is faith in God.
My presidential year has also included a convivium at Farm Street in June 2017, the Easter retreat at Stonyhurst and the Dublin dinner in May 2018. I represented the Association at the Memorial Mass in Westminster Cathedral for Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. He had spent his last years living and working in our home parish of Our Lady of Grace and St Edward in Chiswick.
I am glad that the Stonyhurst Association is giving financial support to the Christian Heritage Centre, a wonderful initiative to make Stonyhurst’s great historic collections more widely accessible.
My warm thanks go to the Association Committee, ably chaired by Simon Andrews, and particularly to the Office Manager, Beverley Sillitoe, who as always, has tirelessly and with great efficiency organised events throughout my year of office.
Robert Brinkley CMG OS 72