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Always Remembered. Never Forgotten

Always Remembered, Never Forgotten, Forever a member of the St Joseph’s community. That is how Lance Corporal Jack Patrick Fitzgibbon was honoured at the ANZAC Ceremony held in Mary MacKillop Hall at St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar on Friday 3 May 2024.  

Jack had died on 6 March following injuries he sustained during a parachuting incident while serving with his 2nd Commando Regiment.  Due to the school holidays, the ANZAC Day Commemoration had been delayed .

A special welcome was extended to Mrs Therese Fitzgibbon, representing the Fitzgibbon family and to Sisters from the local Josephite community.  They joined with a thousand students to honour all the fallen who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation. 

Even in peacetime, service in the military can be dangerous, as Jack’s parachute accident demonstrated.

The ceremony began with the Acknowledgement to Country written and delivered by a Year 9 student.  The Year 9 History students provided the context for the ceremony. 

To quote one student: We were profoundly moved by the courageous spirit and sacrifice of Lance Corporal Fitzgibbon …we dedicate our ceremony to Jack’s memory … we honour not only his valour, but also the countless stories of veterans from our local community … we pledge to carry forward their legacy.

Other students contributed readings from their research.  One read from the letter of a twenty-year old soldier to his family from an AIF camp in Egypt.  The letter ends: If my time to die has arrived, well I shall die a soldier, as it was my wish to be a soldier and a man.  

The students explained the significance of the red poppies, symbolising the sacrifice of so many and remembered in the poem In Flanders Field.

The haunting music of Can You Hear Australia’s Heroes Marching accompanied the setting of the sacred space when students reverently placed the Bible, cross, candles, a photo of Jack, flags, medals and a slouch hat.

All were invited to reflect on a reading from the First Letter of St John (3: 1-2): Think of the love the Father has lavished on us which was followed by a reading John’s Gospel (10:11-18):  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  How appropriate and consoling were those texts!

Mrs Therese Fitzgibbon, Jack’s aunt gave the commemorative address, tracing Jack’s life from his school days at St Patrick’s Cessnock and St Joseph’s Lochinvar to his entry into the Army, his training at Kapooka and finally as a member of the Defence Force Special Operations Command. 

She spoke of his love of life and spirit of adventure.  She quoted Jack’s father, Joel who said that from an early age Jack had wanted to serve as a soldier.

One of the students read a tribute from Jack’s sister, Caitlin who remembered his care for her and his loyalty to his family and friends.

As a response to Jack’s story and to the sound of True Blue, representatives from each Year group, Staff and Sisters were invited to place the commemorative cards prepared in advance, in a decorated box which was offered to Mrs Therese Fitzgibbon for the family’s consolation. 

With the Wreath Laying ceremony, the recitation of the Ode to the Fallen, the playing of The Last Post, the observance of the One Minutes Silence when not the slightest sound was heard, the sound of Rouse and finally of our National Anthem, the very moving ANZAC commemoration came to an end. 

Lest we forget

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