The rites of passage | Ms Lizzy Readford

In the uncertain times of unprecedented global transformation, many in our community are grappling with the concept of personal spirituality or religious connection relevant to their way of living.

In Boys to Men, Richard Rohr offers his thoughts on the Church’s rediscovery of rites of passage as a process that helps the boys in our communities grow into spiritually mature men and combat this internal turmoil. He explains:

It seems that it is only the recent West that has deemed it not necessary to initiate young men. Otherwise, culture after culture felt that if the young man were not introduced to the mysteries, he would not know what to do with his pain and almost always abuse his power.

In the Terrace context, we have been pondering on the profound positive influence that such events, these rites of passage, can have in the process of boys growing up.

  • At Terrace, some of these include:
  • The transition from primary to secondary
  • The Waterford experience
  • Immersion programs
  • Senior Induction and Valedictory

Rites of passage are important for our boys as they provide a system or social marker that eases individuals into a new stage of life without creating uneasiness or disruption. In essence, they provide a way to make an important change official.

The experts tell us that these events are integral to the human experience and our boys because they:

  • Provide a sense of renewal and belonging
  • Are a connection with our past
  • Place us in a sacred space
  • Help us to make sense of change

This week, our Years 11 and 12 students will embark on their own sacrament of transition and rite of passage: the Senior and Semi-Formal. Like all rites of passage, the Formal has three significant stages – the pre (separation), during (liminal), and post celebrations (incorporation). As we have been unpacking in Year 11 Religion and Ethics, these rites of passage only work when there is collective spiritual wisdom into which the participant can be introduced. Each rite of passage has something to teach us as we transition and are initiated through the liminal phase; however, this liminal state can also be treacherous for many; some of who may be faced with the drama of finding the right companion (date) to invite and journey with, or the sense that one night cannot live up to the hype or lofty expectations can leave some disheartened and cause them to miss the magic of the evening.

The hope is that those on the journey will strike a perfect balance and stumble upon the reward of transitioning into a new phase of their young adult lives. The greater purpose of rites of passage is to help us make sense of change as individuals and as a community. Through experiences such as the formal, the boys can gain a deeper awareness of the transitions going on in their lives while providing a sense of continuity with their personal stories and of connection with their community.

We wish all the Year 11 and 12s an enjoyable night!