Edition 9: June 2003 Holy Spirit Province, Australia

Greetings all and welcome to this winter edition of Edmund Rice News for 2003.

 
 
 
 
Our cover photograph is a recent NASA composite photograph of the world put together from Satellite images taken at night. The photograph shows the distribution of population in the world in the brightness of lights from cities and towns. The photograph might cause us to reflect on our unity as a human family and on the enormous work that still remains to be done to lift all people to the standards of living we enjoy.

In the reading we’ve been doing for this edition of Edmund Rice Family News it is evident that the people out in various Edmund Rice Ministries have also been asking what the world needs now? We have grouped these articles into five broad themes:

What the world needs now is … a sense of brotherhood (and sisterhood)
What the world needs now is … love, and a sense of belonging
What the world needs now is … Edmund Rice
What the world needs now is … Jesus Christ
What the world needs now is … men and women like Edmund & Mary Rice

THAT A TIME OF EXCITEMENT AND CHANGE WE ARE LIVING THROUGH! The very earth we walk on seems to be alive to a deep mood of transition. Yet times of transition are also difficult – many grow fearful and worry that the sky is about to fall in, while others are intent on scaling the highest peaks and venturing where humankind has not been before.

This edition of Edmund Rice Family News reflects the time of transition we are moving through. It took humankind thousands of years to scale the world’s highest mountain. From there to scaling the the distance to the moon it took about 18 years and some 34 years later, here we are embarking on an exploration of Mars albeit with an unmanned probe.

We can marvel at these feats of physical exploration but the principal work we in the Edmund Rice world-wide community are about is a spiritual journey.

Firstly, is it not a journey of self to fathom the depths of our own goodness, the heights of our own fulfilment and ultimately a life that we can look back upon with a sense of contentment and say “I did try my best. I did endeavour to use the talents I was endowed with wisely”?

Secondly, is it not a journey wherein, in the spirit of Edmund Rice and Jesus Christ, we endeavour to reach out and assist others along this same pathway?

There has been a lot of thinking going on in the Edmund Rice community and amongst the Christian Brothers in recent years on the question of where to now? As we were preparing this edition of the newsletter it began to dawn on us “hey, something is happening here” as we read the articles coming in. Some new themes and directions are beginning to emerge as to how the vision of Edmund Ignatius Rice translates into the 21st Century.

Perhaps the key to this is to be found in the study undertaken by Peter Nicholson and a diverse collection of colleagues listening to young adults. Are we picking up a new sense of optimism and hope from young people? There is also an important address from the new Province Leader, Br Kevin Ryan, which is exploring the changing mission and vision of the Christian Brothers and the Edmund Rice Family to respond to the changing mood in the world and the changing expectations of those whom we seek to serve.

We also have much news from around the Province and further afield in the Edmund Rice Network which again reflects a mood of optimism amidst change. This is a pretty reflective and thought-provoking issue of Edmund Rice Family News. Read the articles and let us know what you think.

Quick Guide to this issue:

Overview:
  What the world needs now is...

Christian Brothers-Presentation Brothers
  Agreement

Workshop with Br Philip Pinto & CLT
Peter Nicholson's Report on Youth:
  "Beyond the Comfort Zone"

  FULL REPORT SUPPLEMENT
Important Address by Province Leader
  "Looking to the Future of our Mission"

Province Formation Programs Reviewed
News from all around the Province
  Michael Lapsley visit
    
MICHAEL LAPSLEY PHOTO ESSAY
  SA ER Leaders Impress
  Caring for our Planet
  East Timor Gift
  Outreach Program at Rostrevor
  Vale Kevin McMaster
  Vale Tom Roberts

News from all around the Province (cont'd)
  Eddy's Birthay Celebrations
  Peter Thrupp says thanks
  Success in Tracing Family
  Volunteers
  Immersion Retreat
  Todd Flanagan in China
  Vin McKenna says Hi
ERF Link Retreat
Reflection: Edmund Rice

A chance to have your say to the Congregational Leadership Team:

Br Philip Pinto (Congregational Leader) and Brs Jack Mostyn (from the USA) and Michael Godfrey (from Melbourne) will be conducting workshops in Adelaide and Perth in July that are open to all members of the Edmund Rice Family.

The international leadership team of the Brothers want some grassroots feedback from those working at the coalface in Edmund Rice Ministries. This is your chance to meet members of the international leadership team and provide them with some under-standing of your work directly.

It is hoped that members of the Edmund Rice Family, school staff, Edmund Rice Camp Leaders, Brothers, and all those involved in Edmund Rice Ministries who wish to attend will take up this invitation.

If you wish to attend you do need to RSVP by 20th June 2003. Send your details to Noelene at Westcourt by email <admin@westcourt.wa.edu. au> or by fax (9365 2814) or by mail.

The details of the workshops are as follows:


PERTH:

4 July 5-9pm

Venue:
Westcourt or Aquinas
(Venue to be decided when
we have an idea of numbers)

Light meal provided.


ADELAIDE:

13 July 10am-2pm

Venue:
CBC Conference Centre



Light meal provided.

Please note that the Congregational leadership Team members will be holding separate workshops in Perth and Adelaide during their visit for Ministry Leaders and Board Chairpersons. For further details contact Br Rod Ellyard.

To add your name to the email list:

To make sure you receive the email edition in colour send your email address to briancoyne@viastuas.net.au. Let us know if you would like to receive the full email in html format – i.e. with all photographs and graphics – or a text message directing you to a website where it can be viewed through a web browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.

Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers
Historic Agreement

The text following is from the historic agreement signed between the Congregational Leadership Teams of the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers in Rome on 25th April to forge closer cooperation.

SINCE THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL both our Congregations have been committed to the journey of renewal. We have come to appreciate in a deeper way our founding charism in Blessed Edmund Rice. We have endeavoured to respond to the signs of the times. The collaboration between our two Congregations has increased both in extent and depth. This collaboration has been affirmed by the Presentation Brothers General Chapter in 1999 and by the Christian Brothers Congregation Chapter in 2002. It is for us an important sign of the times and a direction for our future. Our Chapters have encouraged us to continue this journey together into the heart of Edmund’s charism.

As Congregation Leadership Teams we now feel called to make the following declaration of intent:
While valuing and respecting our identities as distinct Congregations, we desire to name and affirm the special collaboration that is taking place between us. We propose to form an association between our two Congregations. This association will provide a structure to promote and facilitate even deeper collaboration. Association is our chosen way of continuing our journey together into the heart of Edmund’s charism.

Many examples of associations between Congregations who originate from a common founder exist within the tradition of the Church and of Consecrated Life. We will continue to dialogue and discern on the possible shape and form this association might take. We believe the call to association, to a special and deepened form of collaboration between our Congregations, is an invitation from the Spirit at this time. It is both a grace and a challenge.

Our intention is that we will formally declare and symbolically ritualise this association at two major inter-congregational events in 2004. The two Congregation Leaders will be present at the conference Brothers for A New Millennium in Wa, Ghana in August 2004. In October 2004, the Congregation Leadership Teams will meet in Cork, Ireland. In both cases, we will be inviting local Brothers to join us for these important moments in the life of our Congregations. We also encourage local communities to meet together in parts of the world where our two Congregations are present.

It is our hope that the Association of Congregations of Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers will be a prophetic movement. May it help us deepen our appreciation of Edmund’s charism and may it assist us in being more fully a part of the coming of the reign of God in our time.

Rome 25th April 2003.

HAL DAVID wrote the lyrics “What the World needs now is love, sweet love...” and Burt Bacharach put them to music when the baby boomers were graduating from high school in the 1965. You can listen to the tune again using this controller if you are a real tiger for punishment.

The full version of this report is also available in pdf format at the edmundrice.org website. Click here to view that version: http://www.edmundrice.org/formation/comfort.pdf

A generation down the track, a survey conducted by a few grey haired “baby boomers” led by Peter Nicholson asking what the next generation – the Generation Xers – need has found that love is still high on the agenda. Brian Coyne reports...

The 200-year-old work of Edmund Ignatius Rice has long had its focus on young people. In endeavouring to keep this focus at the core of our work, the National Co-ordinating Group for Formation commissioned a study last year into the formation needs of young people today. The study was endorsed by the Inter-province Leadership Committee of the Brothers and extensive surveying was coordinated by Peter Nicholson from the Edmund Rice National Formation Team.

The Report “Beyond the Comfort Zone” has now been published and makes many recommendations which will no doubt be taken up by those responsible for formation at the various levels within the Edmund Rice Network. What is likely to be of more immediate interest to readers of Edmund Rice Family News are some of the insights provided by this “listening to young people” exercise.

Because of the size and importance of this investigation we are publishing the full text of Peter's draft report as a separate supplement to this edition of Edmund Rice Family News. It will be found here. (You can click on the link or on the illustration to proceed directly to the report.) In his foreword to the draft report Peter Nicholson writes: “It is hoped that this consultation and the discussions emanating from it will play a part in assisting the young to find liberating ‘good news’ for their lives and their world”.

“Looking to the future of our mission”

An important address by Br Kevin Ryan

The following article is an edited version of a talk which Province Leader, Br Kevin Ryan, gave at two recent gatherings of Brothers, the first in Perth on 17 May and the second in Adelaide on 24 May. The two gatherings focussed on the issue of “new Brothers”

I INVITE YOU, for a few moments, to imagine or to remember what it was like for Edmund Rice, Br Ambrose Treacy, or the other key people involved in any of these founding experiences.

  • For Edmund and the early Brothers as they conducted their first school and as they began the Congregation.
  • For Ambrose Treacy as he founded the Australian branch of the Christian Brothers.
  • What was it like for the Brothers who started CBC Perth or CBC Adelaide? Or for those who began Collie or FAME or Edmund Rice Centre Mirrabooka?

This is a time of “refounding” in the Christian Brothers in the Oceania Area. It will require the Spirit and much energy. I guess my deepest experience of “founding” would be being involved with the starting of Clontarf Aboriginal College, and that was nothing if not spirit filled and energetic. But it was also chaotic, challenging and difficult at various times. It was disruptive to my personal life. I’ve been encouraged by what you as Brothers have said this morning as I believe that we as a Province group are coming to an understanding that if new Brothers joined us they will live their call to be Brother in a new way and that may be disruptive to us personally and corporately.

But what we are doing here today in relation to the possibility of new Brothers joining us in this part of the world is only one aspect of the picture of refounding. I think one of the insights that came earlier for us as a province, was the concept of “letting go”. I clearly remember it being named at our 1995 Assembly. It may have been in our earlier thinking as well.

What we are doing in this six-year period (2002-2008) is deepening our understanding of “letting go” and taking further action on it. One of the key areas is the “letting go” of our current Congregational structures – our current Provinces and Regions. This will be involving you as much as it involves me, and as much as it involves the Congregational Leadership Team (CLT). Eventually, if new lines have to be drawn on a map, the CLT will have to do that, but they are clearly wanting new structures to emerge in a “bottom up” way, rather than in a “top down” way.

Secondly, the work of the National Planning Committee on School’s Governance (NPCSG) is about “letting go”. Now, I am aware that further work needs to be done by us as a group on teasing out the practical implications but our main game as Brothers is in our constitutions and in the Chapter 2002 document the “Heart of Being Brother”. I don’t believe our main game is being trustees of schools.

That is not to say that Brothers won’t be involved in education or the “evangelisation of youth”. Clearly, in the “Heart of Being Brother” there is a whole lot about education and about justice and a whole range of things to be done in our ministries. It is, however, always in the context of “the Heart” and “Brother”.

A lot of people ask “Why are you and Dean McGlaughlin, Pat Kelly and a whole range of other people putting so much time into the work of the NPCSG?” That’s a good question! Well, personally, I believe it’s because we think the Edmund Rice charism is worth fighting for in schools in Australia and New Zealand. And I believe other people, and another structure, will be able to generate new ways of keeping that charism alive.

But it is also about refounding of the Congregation in Oceania. It is a “freeing” of the Brothers so we can be in education ministry in times and places where we think it is necessary, but we will not be tied up by particular schools and works. Clearly, at this time, this process is costing us a lot personnel wise and finance wise. But it is continuing the “letting go” that has already been a part of our Province life for a long time.

Thirdly, I think we need to look at our Province finances within the context of re-foundation. The ministries of the Province as it now exists need to be funded in new and different ways and with new priorities. The matter of our finances is being dealt with in other presentations to you as Brothers and to our ministry leaders and boards.

Fourthly, is the planning we are doing in the area of formation. Formation is being planned within the broader Province strategic plan. It is about formation for Brothers and their possible future life and work – I’ll say more on that later. But our planning for formation is also about the development of the skills and spirituality of young people. And if we are going to do that it must be done with vigour. What we do with young people, and what we do with others, needs to deepen their understanding of the Gospel and the Edmund Rice story in such a way that their work is better, their personal and family lives have the chance to be of a better and deeper quality. This formation, and the quality relationships we have with people, the kinds of conversations we have with people, will hopefully provide the environment in which people will be drawn to being Brother.

Fifthly, the work the Province Leadership Team does with you individually, and with the Province as a whole, about priorities for ministry, is about re-foundation of the Province. Our work at the Edmund Rice Centre, Notre Dame, in Edmund Rice Camps, the immersion and service experiences of the Edmund Rice Volunteer movement is all for the betterment of the world, of others, and for the personal and spiritual growth of young people. But let’s not apologise and be embarrassed by the fact that it is also cultivating the environment from which future Brothers may emerge and maybe “Christian Sisters” as well in the future!

Brothers, you and the young – we need to keep in touch with and continue to build relationships with the young. This may require a new way of looking at ministry. It may also require re-skilling. This is not a call back to the 18-hour shifts in boarding schools! It is not a call, for those who are no longer doing it, to return to teaching in areas in which you do not feel comfortable. But we do need to find places, frameworks for ministries, skills and attitudes that allow us to continue our relationships with young people. And because of the way young people talk, the way their body clocks operate, their understanding of relationships locally and around the world, use of text messaging, information technology in general etc, our personal and communal prayer life may need to adapt to that while at the same time we remain true to the essence of being “Christian Brother”.

A sixth area of refounding, and staying in touch with the young, relates to future discussions with you and among you, about the number and style of communities we will have in this Province in the future. Further discussion will take place on this later in 2003 and early in 2004.

I am really attracted, I must say, to a phrase that caught my attention in some reading that Mary, Peter and Rod circulated recently. And it’s been used here today. The phrase is “we’re not looking for peers, we are looking for a new generation”. We are looking for a new generation of Brothers who will have at the centre of their living as Brothers the “Heart of Being Brother” …and the “guts” (if I may use that term) of this is the call to celibacy, the call to a relationship with Jesus that has a distinctive and different quality.

Now we know the call to celibacy may come through a call to action, to do something É a wheelchair project, justice and education work in East Africa or East Timor, meeting a Brother in the Christian Centre for Social Action, knowing a Brother in a Campus Ministry or Service Learning Project or edgeworks education programme or ….?? But we need to remind ourselves, especially in the so called first-world, that the ministry is to express our relationship as Brother to Jesus and Brother to others and to the environment.

I encourage you to continue to believe in your ability to relate to young people, and that you have gifts to share – especially in listening, in mentoring and guiding. My impression in being with young people is that they still cherish our presence – if we have no other gift we do know we have the gift of the charism of Edmund. You may need to read and educate yourself more on the young, to pray about this, to re-skill … but believe in yourselves!

Mary talked earlier about being happy in our lives being called to being Brother, is a call to be happy! Mary described Priests and Sisters who looked weighed down and unhappy. Perhaps today is confronting some of us with the thought of …“bugger me, I’ve got another twenty years of this, and I can’t make a move! Do I really want this É or whatever!” Well, as we move into re-foundation you are going to feel more uncomfortable. I encourage you to face these issues in conversation with your community, in counselling, in spiritual direction and prayer and in conversation with the PLT.

In conclusion, may I reflect on the short excerpt we watched from the movie “Bagger Vance”. Now golfing is definitely not my game! But did you hear the words of the mentor/coach telling the golfer to “let the hands do what they need to do”. What I’m trying to encourage you to do is to get into that “zone” which sports people talk about which I have in fact experienced in sport and in music. But for us, now, it may be more accurate to get into our hearts. Follow your hearts, let your hearts lead you into the future, lead you to God and lead you more deeply into being Brother.

Province Formation Programs Reviewed

LATE LAST YEAR the new Province Leader wrote to Brothers and Edmund Rice Network members inviting participation in a Formation Research Project.

The aim of the initiative was “to identify positive dimensions of the current formation programs and assess needs not being met in the light of the Congregational Chapter document “The Heart of Being Brother” and a similar titled one produced by the Holy Province Chapter earlier last year. This led to a large response from across the Province. The feedback has now been published as a report written by Dr Peter Harney cfc and Mr Michael Fox from the Centre for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

All those involved in the development of formation programs in schools and Edmund Rice Ministries are urged to read this report. This is how former Province Leader, Tony Shanahan, describes the challenge: “The task of formation is to encourage those who find the doing easy to pay attention to the other dimensions, and to challenge those who connect more easily with the spiritual side to express that in some form of doing in ministry”.

Fr Michael Lapsley’s visit

Fr Michael and Ben Taylor
at the Conference

Fr Michael Lapsley’s visit to Perth in May was a huge success. We have prepared a separate photographic essay from the Conference held at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle and the Ecumenical Service held at St George’s Cathedral on 25th May. Thank you to Marlene Jackamarra, Indigenous Issues Officer, for all the effort that went into this Healing of Memories workshop. Thank you also to Fr Michael for sharing his knowledge with us. Fr Lapsley was born in New Zealand but has worked for 30 years in South Africa. He was Chaplain of the African National Congress when he lost both hands and an eye in a letter bomb attack. His energy today is directed to the work of the Healing of Memories Institute he set up in 1998.

Click on the photograph above or here to go to Photo Gallery.

SA ER Leaders impress

Peter Faulkner was “the little spy” who sent us an email to say that “It was heartening to observe our ERCers at last night's Youth Expo at Sacred Heart College. Whether they were taking their turn to address the assembled troops, or making themselves useful helping with the meal, or collecting money, one could be sure that Justin Chung and Rachel and Fernando were spreading happiness. The Expo was organised by the Diocesan Youth Office.The Expo was organised by the Diocesan Youth Office and took the form of five minute presentations by Youth Groups such as NET, Antioch and La Sallians (who admitted to pinching the ERC idea!) and Religious Congregations ... including our own. Some sixteen organisations were represented and the talks were ‘bisected’ by a meal. Impressive night.”

 
Watch This Space!
By popular request.


The ERF Link Committee is planning another “Bush Retreat” for the weekend of 17 - 19 October 2003, at Trinity’s Camp Kelly Dwellingup.
Hopefully once again we will be able to enjoy the same delightful mix of Aboriginal, Australian and Celtic Spirituality that we did last time.
All meals and dormitory style accommodation will be available, BYO bedding or BYO tent etc. Costs to be advised.

Caring for our Planet

Peter Faulkner’s principal work these days is with the Catholic Earth-Care Commission. In an update for this edition he told us the Commission is occupied at the moment with Nuclear Waste Dump, Genetic Modification of Crops and Depleted Uranium Ordnance issues. Br Peter represented Archbishop Wilson recently at the unique “Forum on the Murray” where both Houses of State Parliament together with ten Federal MPs spent a full day working on a solution to the health of the Murray-Darling Basin. SA's Earth Charter C'tee meets at the Cathedral Building every six weeks and is studying and putting into practice the various "Principles" of the document. (It's like a Retreat!)
Catholic Earthcare Australia had its April Meeting postponed by the Bishops' conference.

You can check out the Catholic Earthcare website at: http://www.catholicearthcareoz.net/

East Timor

With all the other troubles in the world East Timor has slipped from the news a little yet the challenge of building this new nation continues. The East Timor Leeuwin Care Group has asked us to pass on their thanks for a donation of $2,150 from the Province. This has been an important contribution to the $8-10,000 the group aims to raise this year to provide the living expenses of a “very prayerful, generous community of twelve who are daily serving people at risk in East Timor”.

For the latest information about the East Timor Leeuwin Care Group visit the Edmund Rice Centre website at the University of Notre Dame Australia: http://erc.nd.edu.au/

Outreach Program at Rostrevor

Most schools today are endeavouring to implement outreach programs that develop a sense of social responsibility in young people. Lynne Moten, Service Programme Co-Ordinator at Rostrevor has provided us with an overview of the program at Rostrevor College. “The boys are encouraged to assist and stand in solidarity with the poor and marginalised in our world and to be aware of, and to respond to social justice issues.” Her report details the type of endeavours undertaken at each level in the Junior School and gives an overview of what is also happening at the more senior levels. “One recent development is that the Programme has now extended to the point where parents have become involved in working on the Soup Run at night. The plan is to have a Rostrevor team work on that run, and the dream is to eventually have our own van. The way this programme has developed in the last year, it won’t be too long before that dream becomes a reality!” Lynne’s reports can be viewed as a pdf file here.

Vale Br Kevin McMaster

Br Kevin McMaster had a long and distinguished teaching career in Queesland, New South Wales and in the Holy Spirit Province. As Br Rod Ellyard noted in this tribute published in the Brothers’ newsletter "Kevin had a wonderful smile and his hearty laugh with friends was infectious".

Br Kevin McMaster
14:11:29-19:04:03

Kevin was born in Adelaide to George McMaster and Elizabeth Willis. He has one surviving sibling, Mrs. Margaret King who lives in the Perth suburb of Lesmurdie. Kevin attended CBC Wakefield Street where he did well in his schooling and excelled as a cricketer. He remained attached to his alma mater throughout life. When he joined the Brothers he became part of the largest Australian Novitiate group, that of 1948. The usual range of early teaching appointments took him to Toowoomba, Chatswood, Rostrevor, Adelaide and Highgate. In June 1969 a new Community was established at Bedford from Highgate. Kevin was appointed first Superior. He gave the new entity the name St.Mark's.

Vigil Ceremony at McAuley
Centre for Br Kevin.

His well honed qualities of thoroughness and meticulous attention to detail came to the fore and the builders knew they had a man who would not be satisfied with anything less than what was required. These qualities were the mark of the man and he put them to good use in appointments as Headmaster of CBC Fremantle and Rostrevor, Deputy Principal at Trinity, Province Bursar, Administrator of Castledare and Clontarf, and Consultant at the Catholic Education Office for his final 10 years. Kevin studied relevant documents and committed them to memory and with such detail he was seldom wrong.

Kevin was a highly qualified person. He had five degrees in Education and Administration. A peak time of recognition of his talents was his time as visiting Professor at Iona, USA under the Austin Loftus Scholarship scheme.

Mass at Chapel of
St Michael the Archangel,
Catholic Education Centre,
West Leederville.

The Vigil Prayers for Kevin were attended by about 65 people. When it came to the Sharing of Memories, quite a stream of people had something to say. From school classmates, to those who shared initial formation or lived with him as a Brother to recent work colleagues and friends, they kept standing up and speaking about the impact he made on their lives. His Requiem Mass the following day at St. Michael the Archangel chapel at the Catholic Education Office where he worked in charge of Schools Capital Development Funding until a fortnight from his death, was very well attended. Br. Basil Hickey, a long standing friend, gave the enlogy and spoke with insight and emotion. Fr. John Harte SJ celebrated the Eucharist and also spoke movingly.

Kevin had a wonderful smile and his hearty laugh with friends was infectious. Despite this, his wonderful abilities in organization and administration were not fully matched in his ability to deal with people. Misunderstandings occurred and there were hurts on both sides. This was a big cross for him to bear and there were plenty of signs that he suffered deeply. He also suffered poor health. While his illness and final suffering from the cancer that killed him was mercifully brief, he suffered from asthma most of his life. He was often short of breath and short of energy.

A very significant Brother has passed from our midst.

May he rest in peace.                                                            Br Rod Ellyard

Vale Tom Roberts

Br Hugh Sharpe cfc, whose paintings of Edmund Rice and his family have been a regular feature of the web edition of the news, is now living in Perth. He has written a very moving tribute to Tom Roberts. Tom was a former Brother familiar to many in the Edmund Rice Family in Holy Spirit Province who died in Tasmania recently.

On Tuesday May 13th I visited Tom in the Whittle Ward (Palliative Care) in the Repatriation Hospital in Hobart, now part of the Hobart Royal. Tom has been ill for several years with advancing chronic sugar diabetes. Some months ago a new severe condition lead doctors to discover a brain tumour, which proved to be a secondary, for cancer had invaded all his internal organs. The medical people were surprised that he has been able to hold on so tenaciously to life.

Although Tom was fully conscious, I was anxious not to overtax his strength. We spoke and reminisced, but not continuously, for about an hour. During that time we joked, and he laughed quietly to himself of the good times we had had together, especially in Fremantle with Tony Kelly, Pat Grant, Len Marshall, Bert Hodgekinson, Neil Wilson and others. He remembered them all. He expressed a warmth and high regard for brothers he had known and lived with, ones like Bruno Doyle, Paddy O’Doherty, and appreciated the sterling work done in the institutions. His time in Broome, where he had been the first Principal of Nulungu College, had been an important and happy time for him. His community was Peter Hardiman and Nick Bilich (R.I.P). He was grateful for the prayers offered for his welfare by the brothers in WA. One of the most devoted visitors during Tom’s last illness was Br Jack Higgins of West Moonah, Hobart.

To celebrate Tom’s 70th birthday, to acknowledge his life and to accept that he was terminally ill, a Leave Taking Ceremony took place on his birthday, 4th April, in their unit at Snug, a small town south of Hobart. Appropriately it was during Easter week. Tom and his wife, Denise, welcomed close friends and relatives – his sister Bernadette from Perth, his sister Cecilia and her husband, Ted, from Victoria and his nephew, Gerald Kelly, from Melbourne. The ceremony recalled all the special events in Tom’s life, gave thanks for God’s gifts and expressed gratitude for all the happy times he had experienced, especially when he was in the Christian Brothers. Tom received the Eucharist and was anointed by Fr Chris Hope. Denise remarked that an almost party atmosphere prevailed from midday till after tea.
Mary Morgan, a Presentation Sister, of Maryknoll, Tasmania, runs a Prayer Companions Group with which Tom and Denise were associated. To her the ceremony was inspirational as she noted Tom’s wonderful spirit and attitude as he faced the future.

Such was his spirit that even on the day I saw him he had travelled by ambulance to see for the last time their unit at Snug, but he was able only to stay twenty minutes. He even advised the gardeners to have a break and to take good care of themselves.

Before I left Tom gave me a printed card on which were written these words he had composed himself:-

May the Spirit
be with you
And guide your
saving hands
and thoughts
I’m ready for this
special adventure:
Mind – wise
Body – wise
Faith – wise.
Let the adventure begin.

I felt I was a link with the brothers and that part of his life for which he was very grateful. When I said goodbye I was sure I would not see him again.

Even up to the following Thursday (16th May) Tom was anxious to contact friends by letter, but by Friday he was in and out of deep sleep. By phone Denise told me he was in a coma (Monday) and that his was a gentle dying, with almost some hints of grandeur.

Tom hung on to life for another ten days and died peacefully at 7.00am on Friday 23rd May.

I was told that on the following Tuesday, 27th May, Fr Chris Hope lead the obsequies assisted by Fr Graeme Howard in the Snug Church. Over sixty people, including a sister and two nephews who placed the white pall on the coffin, formed the congregation, many of whom were locals from the small township – such was Tom’s influence over the short period he had been there. As he loved the harp, a member of the symphony orchestra played during the Mass and sea-shells from Broome were offered as symbols of Tom’s dedication to his mission work in that town especially his efforts with the aboriginal people. In his homily Chris stressed Tom’s love for people, his humour and his work for the Edmund Rice Family – a truly beautiful celebration.

In his married life and in his religious life he had been a source of blessings for so many. R.I.P.

...Hugh Sharpe

Eddy's Birthday

Edmund Rice’s Birthday on May 4th was celebrated this year at Olly’s Workshop in Wangara. Br. Olly Pickett welcomed about 80 Edmund Rice Family and Friends, as they enjoyed a Sunday afternoon tea, followed by a guided tour of the workshop and the wheelchair assembly line, from bits and pieces through to completed wheelchairs packed ready for shipping. Large wall displays showed all the places in the world where almost 2000 wheelchairs have now been sent, primarily for use by child victims of land mines. Photographs of the many maimed but smiling kids proudly sitting in their wheelchairs dotted the walls. The workshop run by Br. Olly is a joint venture by the Christian Brothers and the Rotary Club of Scarborough. Over 50 volunteers assemble the wheelchairs, and they are often supplemented by groups of school kids, who collect donations and then volunteer to help with the assembly.

Two boys, who had been on recent Trinity College pilgrimages to India, spoke movingly of their experience working with the sick and poor, and how it had affected their lives since. They were followed by a short PowerPoint reflection and prayer led by Br. Rod Ellyard.
Finally, while a large sausage sizzle was got under way by Br. Bernard White, many took a few minutes to inspect the nearby Eddy’s Carpentry Shop under the guidance of Br. Peter Thrupp. Peter’s workshop provides kids at risk with an opportunity for constructive use of their time, and exposure to the influence of Edmund Rice.

So, an interesting day ended on a great note, with a delightful sausage, onion and salad sizzle. The day had given us all an opportunity to see and feel something else of the Spirit of Edmund Rice in action. Br Rod Ellyard

 

Peter Thrupp says thanks

Peter as he appeared in the paper
with the new saw donated by
Scarborough Rotary Club.

Br Peter Thrupp runs Eddy’s Carpentry Workshop in Wangarra helping about 50 children from local schools facing challenges in their lives. He recently used the Wanneroo Times to thank the Scarborough Rotary Club for donating a new docking saw and to publicise the work of the Workshop.

Todd Flanagan in China

Talking of the tour to India, many will remember the video made a couple of years ago on the Trinity Pilgrimage to India which was largely the brainchild of Todd Flanagan. Todd has recently been promoted to the position of Principal at the Shanghai International School in China where he has been based for two years.

He reports he “is particularly keen on implementing the style of leadership, which he saw and experienced at both Aquinas and Trinity College.”

Todd and outgoing principal,
Gerald Coulombe

Todd and students in the
beautiful ground of the school

Todd attended Aquinas College between 1979-1983 as a boarder and later worked in the Boarding House. He worked in the Junior School relieving the then Assistant Principal, Mr Mark Hackett before accepting a role as the Assistant Principal – Administration at Trinity College. The Shanghai International School is the first international school officially recognized by and registered with the Chinese government, YCIS-Shanghai has become an important “window” in Eastern China for the exchange of educational ideas and experiences with other parts of the world.

Success in Tracing Family

The Christian Brothers Ex-Residents and Students Services received a heartening message on their website recently from Godfrey Gilmour. He has been reunited with over 70 family members and was writing to express his appreciation. He urges those searching "to persevere and maintain your hope". Here is the text of Godfrey's message:

I have just recently traced my father after a search that has lasted most of my life. I have also made contact with all my brothers and sisters as well as a large extended family in the British Isles. I met over 70 family members. It was an emotive time and an especially warm and loving occasion.I was able to meet my father just a short while before he died in February.

For years I had searched and yet always avoided making direct contact, I guess I was scared of more rejection. I was wrong on all counts as the reception I received was wonderful and I am now in regular contact with the British side of my family as well as my Maltese family.

I would urge those searching to persevere and maintain your hope.
Regards
Godfrey Tonna Gilmour

The C-BERS website also is well worth a visit: http://www.cberss.org/

Immersion Retreat in Lusaka

Richard Walsh reports that 19 school principals and others from Australia, NZ and Ireland were engaged in an 'immersion' retreat at the International Spirituality Centre in Lusaka, Zambia. Peter Shanahan and Mark McGlaughlin from Holy Spirit Province were there too.

Richard's report can be read on the edmundrice.org website at: http://www.edmundrice.org/formation/content/507retreat.html

Who needs ham radio when you have the internet?

We had an email in following our request for news from Vin McKenna in which he informed us “Br Peter Ellis has commenced work at the mission at Wewak (PNG) among other duties he is Electronic Technical assistant to the mission hospital. He has obtained an amateur radio callsign, P29PE, and has established regular contact on the 20 metre band with Vin “Doc” McKenna VK3AOY in Melbourne.” Vin had the science wing at Aquinas named after him last year and is remembered for his call sign VK6AQ when he was teaching at Aquinas when Hal David was writing “What the world needs now...”. What “Doc” McKenna thought the world needed was a plethora of antennae and if he’d had his way he probably would have tried to install a Cyclotron at Aquinas as well. He did teach the most popular RE classes in the college though. Today he lives in retirement in Melbourne with his wife Joy when he’s not visiting his amateur radio friends around the world. The internet does not seem to have dampened the interest of the genuine ham radio enthusiasts.

Volunteers

The success of the Edmund Rice Volunteers program is becoming increasingly evident. The following is a report from Anne O’Donoghue who is presently volunteering in Nairobi with our own Kelsey Wilson.

Hi all, it’s nice to be writing again, a good chance for me to reflect on what’s happened to date. In terms of life over here, things are calm and “normal”, despite the talked about threat of terrorism. The rains were late this year, causing fears of drought and famine, but then we were hit with massive flooding and sadly many have died or lost homes up country. In Nairobi, the main water pipe serving the city was destroyed and part of it found floating down a river somewhere! We’ve had no water for about three weeks now. Luckily, we have a rainwater tank and plenty of buckets to fill from it! Those I work with have to walk long distances and pay for and carry containers of water. Apart from this, life is going nicely, there is a great network of volunteers here and we realise how lucky we are in the scheme of things.

While Ruben school was still on holidays, I kept busy running a bit of a craft program at a local orphanage, run by the Mercy Sisters. I also helped accompany a group to the local safari park and animal orphanage. The children were just as excited as any foreigner to see the local wildlife, as they are not exposed to such treats, coming from the slums or the streets of Nairobi. There was particular excitement (and shrieks) all round when our picnic lunch was invaded by a family of warthogs!

During the last week of break, I helped to lead an Edmund Rice Camp for some of the more disadvantaged children from Ruben and a neighbouring school. The weather was appalling, but we all had a fantastic time, with activities like art and craft, indoor sports and bushwalking. Some of the Standard 8 students as well as some local teenagers with scout training proved to be innovative and energetic leaders. Even when all 40 of us were stranded in a gazebo for two hours, waiting out a downpour, the children were thoroughly entertained, playing a long string of games, involving lots of African singing and dancing and no other resources.

Now, my remedial program is in full swing and taking up much of my time and thoughts. There is lots of work and many challenges associated with getting a new program up and running and with assessing students individually. I am lucky to have the help of a young local woman, Benadetta (in picture). She helps me with translating when necessary and with managing the class, so that we can have a teacher/ student ratio of 1:5, or have time for preparation by taking turns with running a class. The other volunteer here, John also comes in to help out when he can.

I have 10-12 students from each standard (grade) 1-6, plus a smaller group of Standard 7/8. On Monday we focus on speaking and listening in English, on Tuesday and Wednesday the focus is on developing reading skills, Thursday has a writing focus and on Fridays we are trying to develop the students’ numeracy skills, while also practising speaking and listening in English. The children in lower primary still only learn English as a subject, so we talk to them in a mixture of English and Swahili, but I try to run lessons mostly in English for the upper primary classes, as that is the language of instruction and examinations for them. There is some need to use Swahili, though, to facilitate learning, as often a lack of English is what has caused these children to fall behind in the first place. I am learning Kiswahili (and loving it!). Often the children will rattle on to me in Kiswahili, which I may pretend to understand with a “kweli?” (“really?”) or “hapana” (“no”) response. It keeps the kids on their toes if they don’t think I can’t understand them! I am learning fairly quickly though, and the children are also quickly picking up more English. The babies (7 year olds) now all greet me with “Good morning teecha!”, and can all say “return your books!” as I repeat it to them so often!!

The children rush to class and especially enjoy free reading time, with the story books (donated by you!) and the learning games I have brought or made. They get incredibly excited about using coloured pencils, paint or paper (all of which I bought with your generous donations).

We have also just started a Reading Club in the library at lunch times. The students are not allowed to borrow from the library (books often go missing, having been sold in the village!), nor is the library normally open at lunch times. So, hopefully now we will make the most of the books donated, and can encourage the children’s enjoyment in reading.

The librarian, Br Florence (shown in picture), principal, students and staff were all incredibly grateful for your donations, and they have enabled me to run (I hope) an effective program. There is still much work to be done to ensure that I am meeting the students’ needs. Thanks to all who have given advice and resources. Particular thanks to Caroline Fogarty, who recently sent me an invaluable package of ESL resources and ideas.

Please keep the children and me in your thoughts and prayers. I am having a fantastic time, and we are really still just getting started! There is lots more to achieve. Look out for more updates next month, and I will also send more “action” photos, of the teaching and learning going on in the remedial classes.

God bless
Anne O’Donoghue
ERV


Edmund with the Christ Child
from the Edmund Rice Icon

EDMUND RICE REFLECTION...

Christ-like Love

Part of Edmund’s saintliness was that he saw the face of Christ in those least respected by the social code – beggars, prisoners, the unsophisticated, and unkempt.

One story handed down is that of Poll – a woman of the streets, an alcoholic, shunned by the people of Waterford. Supported by Edmund’s friendship, she managed to seek help from the Presentation Sisters and turned her life around.

When Poll decided to mark the 120km journey to Cork to take ‘the pledge’, it was Edmund who trusted in her decision (where others saw her as a hopeless case) and arranged from her to be suitably attired for the trip. Poll never acquired material wealth, yet her story has continued to enrich others for almost two centuries.

Prayer:

Jesus, your great commandment was to ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’

Edmund Rice took this to heart. His love was true, practical and selfless. Help us to be unafraid to love like that.

Amen.

This reflection is taken from Chapter 4 on Christ-like Love in God is in the Ordinary by Teresa Pirola.


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