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An American Family in Oz: St. Aloysius’ College and Our Ferry Ride to Watson’s Bay

By Christoper J. Robbins

Greetings from sunny, wintry Oz! Maria, John and I are enjoying a sunny but chilly August here in Sydney exploring all sorts of interesting areas. Recently, we boarded and rode the F4 Ferry from near our home in Kirribilli to Watson’s Bay, which is nearly the furthest point east you can travel within Sydney Harbor before you reach the Pacific Ocean. It was a beautiful sunny, windy day and the ferry ride lasted 35 minutes or so with a couple of stops at Circular Quay and Rose Bay along the way. We enjoyed lunch at a great fish and chips shop along the wharf at Watson’s Bay and explored nearby parks and the beach near the wharf: 360 degree vistas of beauty… total feast of the senses. I thank the Good Lord everyday for our wonderful life and homes on two continents.

In harmony with our theme of family, faith and friends I’m going to focus on faith in this offering and expound on the history of Saint Aloysius (pronounced “Aloe Wish Us” for those in Adair Heights) who is the patron saint of youth learning and healing. Nearby to our home in Kirribilli, there is a Jesuit school that educates boys from grade 3 through grade 12 and it is called Saint Aloysius’ College. It was founded in 1879 in Sydney and the school motto is “Ad Majorus Natus” which translates to “Born for Greater Things”. Saint Aloysius’ College purpose is to raise young men of competence, conscience, commitment and compassion. Its mission is to provide a Catholic education for young boys that is built upon the following three foundational tenets:

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1) Proposes Christ as the model for human life
2) Pursues excellence in teaching and learning.
3) Promotes lifelong learning and spiritual growth.

A Jesuit school for boys founded in 1879

Emphasis is placed on the formation of the whole person: Saint Aloysius’ College teachers focus not only on intellectual development but, even more importantly, on character and spiritual development. We can all agree this is something that is in short supply in our world. In America in particular there is a crisis of broken homes which, sadly, beget broken people. We desperately need to restore order to the family and one obvious place to start is by building better men who will become better husbands and better fathers.

The more I learn about Saint Aloysius’ College, the more it captures my attention and holds my admiration. Our dream is for our son, John, to attend it one day… starting in year 5 or year 7. Total enrollment at Saint Aloysius (grades 3-12) averages 1250 pupils. It is a selective school, so John will have to pass an entrance examination. The world doesn’t just need smart men (which John will be) but it needs good men who will become good husbands and good fathers. Our number one job as parents is to raise John to be a good citizen and ultimately a man of good character and faith. The rest is gravy. See photo of John with Saint Aloysius’ College building in the background…multi-story brick building adorned with the large Cross…it is positioned with a beautiful SW viewing perspective of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. A historical mini biography of St. Aloysius Aloysius (Luigi) Gonzaga (1568-1591) was a man who lived in Italy during the renaissance. He was born into a wealthy family and was educated at the finest institutions in Venice and Florence and then gave up his inherited wealth to focus on Christ and educating children. When the Black Plague devastated much of Europe and morbidly made its way to Rome he cared for the afflicted. Aloysius sadly succumbed to the Plague himself; dying at the all-too-early age of 23. Aloysius Gonzaga was eventually canonized in 1726 and named Patron of All Students in 1729. Four symbols are associated with Saint Aloysius: the Lilly (for purity), the human skull (signifies his early death), the rosary (his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary) and the cross (his life of piety).

One last interesting footnote: Aloysius is Latin for Louis and our son, John Louis is named after his great Uncle Louis and Grand Grandpa Louis Zimmer. Maybe the Good Lord intends for John Louis to attend Saint Aloysius’ College after all. My favorite quote attributed to Saint Aloysius is the following: “It is better to be a child of God than King of the whole world.” That’s all for now; we will reconnect in a fortnight.

G’day, God Bless and Bob’s Your Uncle!

Useful Travel to Oz Financial factoids: Currency Exchange Rate: $1 USD = $1.36 AUD. Source: Bloomberg
Roundtrip Airfare Det-Syd: $1331 USD, Source: Expedia; Delta, 1 Stop in LA

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Christopher J Robbins was born in 1968, the last of eleven children of Paul and Jean Robbins of Saint Clair Michigan. He grew up on Belle River Road…. affectionately referred to as Dog Patch (Courtesy of Uncle Joe McKay RIP). He was raised by Jean E. Robbins and Paul L. Robbins and 10 older siblings. Baptized, 1st Communion, 1st Confession and confirmation at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church. Graduated St. Clair High School in 1986. Played football (OG and LB) for Benny where we had < 5 pass plays in O; Quiz Bowl Team, National Honor Society, School Play (Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Mr. Harrington). Attended Eastern Michigan University 1986-1988. Transferred to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in Fall of 1988 to pursue Chemical Engineering degree. Graduated UM in May 1991 B.S. Chemical Engineering. Received job offers from: General Electric, NCR, Chevron (El Segundo California); Chevron, Richmond, CA. Exxon Chemical: Linden, NJ. Dow Chemical, Freeport TX. Exxon Company USA, Baton Rouge, LA, Exxon Chemical, Baton Rouge, LA. Accepted offer from Exxon Company USA, Baton Rouge, LA. Worked for Exxon Company USA, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 1991-1993. Unit Engineer in Wax and Lube Refinery Unit. Survivor of multiple Mardi Gras’. Many Scuba Excursions: Florida Panhandle. Lots of Crawfish Boils. Acquired 1979 Porsche 911 Carrera, Copper Brown Metallic, Cork Leather Interior. Drove it coast-to-coast. Worked for Elf Atochem North America in Philadelphia, PA 1993-1996 as Technical Service Applications Engineer. Specialized in organic chemicals…specifically nitrogen-based Amine chemistry. Supplied technical assistance to customers and sales forces throughout the world. Boiler Water Corrosion Control, Runaway Polymerization Reaction Control etc. Brew Master: Quay Street Brewing Company, Port Huron, MI. 1996-1998. Developed recipes for several beers including Robbins Red Ale, Port Huron-Style Kolsch and Pilsner, Ginger Beer and many others. Substitute Teacher in East China School District: 1998-1999. Surveyor and Civil Engineer (Emphasis on Construction Engineering) with Spalding DeDecker Associates, Rochester Hills, MI: 1999-2014 Self-Taught Civil Engineer. Became a Licensed Professional Engineer in State of Michigan, 2003. Met my Australian wife, Maria, at family wedding on Maui in May 2009. Married Maria in August 2010 at friend’s house on the St. Clair River in East China Twp. (Best Decision I’ve ever made). Judge Cynthia Platzer officiated. Witnesses: Bill and Cris Nesbitt, Gerry & Patti Mason. Ringbearer: John Deaver-Chang Mason. Worked for Fleis & Vandenbrink, Engineering Company. Karegnondi Water Pipe Line. 2014-2015. Moved to Oz in October 2015. John Louis Robbins born at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney: Nov 2015. Stay at Home Dad in Oz: Nov 2015 to Present. Writer for Blue Water Healthy Living: Beginning July 4, 2018. Ending: TBD Christian, Husband, Father, Engineer, Thinker. Lover of Life. Faith. Family. Friends. American Football.
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