Edition 14: July 2004 Holy Spirit Province

Index to Province Stories:

Changing faces at Westcourt!

Quiet achievers from Christian Brothers' schools (Roger Francey from Rostrevor)

Searching the heavens – astronomy at Trinity

Improving the education of boys (CBC Adelaide)

Indigenous Ministry displays

Spreading their wings at Tardun


“Westcourt” Province Centre

Changing faces at Westcourt

Ann Curran has joined the Westcourt Staff. She will work with Max Montisci in Accounts and manage IT matters for the Province Office. Welcome Ann!

Diane Richards has concluded her work at Westcourt after 12 years of very dedicated service. We wish Diane well as she moves on with her life, following a period of travel.

Richard Mavros (Mav) has announced his engagement to Katie Bertram. There is no date yet for the wedding. Mav's face has been as shiny as the top of his head all week! Congratulations Mav!


Quiet achievers from Christian Brothers' schools

One of the great joys of teaching is in looking back at the lives one has influenced, many times in ways that were not imagined at the time. The latest Rostrevor Magazine, Red and Black, carries a couple of inspiring stories of old boys who have made a quiet contribution to the betterment of our world. We reproduce here the story of Dr Roger Francey (pictured below), a physicist whose contribution has been in environmental monitoring.

IT WAS BRIEFLY REPORTED in Red & Black in November 2003 that Roger Francey ('58) had been granted a $7million fellowship. The news prompted Red & Black to invite Roger to contribute a little more about his lifelong work and that is what is presented here. Roger was Captain of the School in 1958 as well as Dux. He received the Maths I and II awards and was a member of the 1st XVIII and 1st XI, both teams being captained by David David. He was also a gymnast of some skill.

Roger was a boarder from Poochera on the West Coast.

The invitation to contribute to Red&Black coincided with my retirement. CSIRO was unable to meet commitments to the Federation Fellowship reported in the November 2003 edition of Red & Black and now key members of the fellowship team have been snapped up by overseas institutions. My own reaction is mixed - disappointment at a missed opportunity to play a key role in research of global importance, relief at the lifting of responsibilities that would have stretched me beyond a conventional 'use-by date', and interest at other opportunities that almost always emerge from changes in circumstance. (It is consoling that the abandoned task is of such importance that it will be done somewhere, sometime, in the next decade).

After leaving Rostrevor in 1958, I secured an Honours degree in physics at the University of Tasmania. This time is remembered more for football rather than academic achievement -a brief stint with St Virgil's old boys, then with University, a best and fairest, captain, Blue, all-Australian selection, association best and fairest and State amateur squad. A 1962 move to Sandy Bay in the TFL yielded a best & fairest and runner up association best first-year player (to future triple-Brownlow medalist Ian Stewart). A groin injury put a sudden halt to football, but meant I resumed gymnastics and in 1964, spent a year at Mawson, Antarctica as Cosmic Ray Physicist. Francey Hill (perhaps the least conspicuous topographical feature ever named in Antarctica?) is a legacy of this time.

In 1966, a Commonwealth PhD scholarship facilitated my joining an Adelaide-Tasmania X-ray Astronomy team, at the same time persuading a beautiful young Melbourne woman (my wife of 38 years) to share my life. Astronomy took me to Adelaide University for two 6-9 month stints (briefly playing footy with Rostrevor Old Boys), to Bristol UK, and to rocket launches at Woomera (a highlight was our discovery of the first variable x-ray star1), Hawaii and Hudson's Bay in the Arctic. The last two took place during a 3-year stint, as a post-doctoral fellow, with Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada (during which I was privileged to lead their Cricket Club teams to their first ever championships).

In 1973 I relinquished an offer to work on the first X-ray satellite (for reasons to do with not wanting to raise a son and daughter in New York, and an ailing father back home), and joined CSIRO in Melbourne to work on atmospheric turbulence (about which I knew practically nothing). This well-established field had little potential to surprise and after 3-4 moderately productive years I managed to secure support to mount a series of tree-ring expeditions into the ancient Tasmanian rainforests2. The hope was that isotopic information stored in many thousand year-old Huon pines would provide clues about increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

We uncovered reasons why this approach would fail, bringing to an end similar international studies (however the expeditions yielded a near-continuous sequence of annual wood samples extending over the last 10,000 years and beyond, allowing collaborators to extend radiocarbon dating and demonstrate the unique nature of recent global warming). Meanwhile, at the small hillside community of Upper Beaconsfield, I registered as owner-builder and built a family home; I served as chairman of the local progress association, founding editor of a surviving community newsletter The Village Bell; and was honoured with "Citizen of the Year" in 1981. At CSIRO we refocused, and in a scientific coup, accurately reconstructed atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and isotopes over the last 1000 years from air trapped in Antarctic ice.

The Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station3, sited at the NW tip of Tasmania, is Australia's principal commitment to Global Atmosphere Watch4. It has frequent exposure to strong winds off the Southern Oceans ('the roaring forties'). As first scientific director at Cape Grim during 1982-1983 I oversaw transfer of measurements into a permanent building and expansion of the science program through national and international collaboration. The whole family enjoyed living in Smithton. By the late 1980s, Cape Grim was described as the premier station in the GAW network, and by Minister Barry Jones as the 'jewel in the crown' of his federal science portfolio. My Cape Grim CO2 isotope program, complemented by the ice core results, provides the best constraint on year-to-millennia isotopic variability in models of the global carbon cycle. Meanwhile, in the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983, we lost our rented-out Upper Beaconsfield home (and the Village Bell proved a community boon). With recognition by the federal Government in the late 1980s of global warming, I was able to upgrade CSIRO measurements of gases capable of influencing climate. This resulted in GASLAB (Global Atmospheric Sampling Laboratory), providing the most comprehensive monitoring of greenhouse gases in the Southern Hemisphere.

We launched innovative calibration and comparison activities to aid merging data from different laboratories around the world. Important new laboratories in France and Germany are closely modelled on GASLAB. A GASLABdeveloped 'LoFlo CO2 analyser' outperforms conventional analysers, with units currently being delivered to France, the European Commission, Germany, Korea, Malaysia and Japan. Both the Federation Fellowship and the 2001 Victoria Prize ($50,000 shared with Paul Steele) recognised GASLAB and the LoFlo development and applications. Other achievements over the last 30 years have been supervising 11 post-graduate students (from Melbourne, Tasmania, Sydney and Monash Universities) and authorship on 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers and many more reports.

For the next 6 months some nice overseas offers are on hold and top priority goes to redressing the neglect that has accumulated with regard to family, home and exploration of the Australian outback. An honorary CSIRO fellowship means I will continue unfinished work, training and participate on two European science advisory panels. For most of the time with CSIRO, I have been privileged to pursue objectives which have addressed problems that coincided with my own values and interests. CSIRO provided intellectual freedom and the opportunity to combine work and ethical values in a nonpolitical way. Rostrevor provided a key ingredient; I attribute to it the confidence to tackle important tasks requiring as yet undiscovered methods, and resources well beyond those immediately realizable. The message that stuck was the obligation to do your best whatever the circumstance, and to be satisfied with your best; the message stuck in large part because of the integrity and ardent commitment of the Brothers.

These complemented values from my parents: from my father, a 1920's refugee from Irish sectarian violence and a skilled pugilist, tolerance, honesty, idealism and humour; from my mother add the dismissal of doubt.

A strong lifelong motivation has been to redress some of the enormous damage that our species inflicts on the earth and the life-forms that we share it with. X-ray Astronomy, apart from yielding astonishing new insights into physics and the workings of the universe, provided a perspective on the smallness, fragility and uniqueness of our planet. Previously, seeds of concern about the human impact on fragile environments were sown during my time at Rostrevor - this was at time when some 70% of Eyre Peninsula was being cleared, with government endorsement, as a droughtrelief measure for farmers. I still remember the shock of an otherwise very enjoyable holiday stay in the mid- North - it was an ecological desert by comparison with the rich complexity of a seemingly limitless arid bush at home. Tim Flannery5, Director of the Adelaide Museum (and an old boy of St Bede's in Mentone, Victoria), gives eloquent words to my slow-to-crystallise concerns.

  1. Exploring the X-ray Universe, P.Charles & F.Seward, Cambridge University Press (1995) p175
  2. Explorers of the Southern Sky, R. Haynes et al., Cambridge University Press (1996) p349.
  3. Isotopes in Tree-rings - The Stanley River Expeditions, R. Francey et al. (1984) CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research Technical Paper, No.4, 86 pp
  4. Cape Grim is now operated by the Bureau of Meteorology, in cooperation with CSIRO
  5. A United Nations Environment Program, coordinated by the World meteorological Organisation.
  6. The Future Eaters, Tim Flannery, Reed Books, Australia (1994),

Astronomy at Trinity

Searching the heavens

TRINITY COLLEGE in Perth has a magnificent astronomical telescope mounted on its roof. They also have a special webpage providing a fascinating set of photographs taken by students and staff of the heavens.

The main telescope is a Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain 31.5 cm (12.5") telescope built by Star Instruments of the USA.
This is a high technology design and incorporates features such as superb optics delivering coma-free images, carbon fibre tubing that removes thermal tube flexure, and mirror air circulation fans.

The telescope is connected to a highly accurate and manoeuvrable mount that utilizes precision-machined gears and servo motors that can boast a pointing accuracy of one arc minute.

The observatory also has a state of the art digital camera and the entire observatory is able to be operated by remote control over the internet. This means the students and staff needn't get their feet cold and can do most of their work from the comfort of their loungerooms or classrooms.

The photograph at left is of the Tarantula Nebula taken by Trinity student William Skevington (aged 14). It is a combination of three 30 second exposures taken through red, green and blue filters and combined using MaximDL Software.

You can find out much more at the Observatory website which you can find here: http://observatory.trinity.wa.edu.au/Observatory/observatory.html

CBC Adelaide

Improving the Education of Boys

BRENDAN NELSON, the Federal Minister for Education, recently visited CBC Adelaide to promote a new initiative aimed at improving the academic performance of boys in Australian schools.

Mr Nelson is pictured with Federal MP Trish Worth presenting Brother Patrick Cronin (Principal of CBC) with a plaque to recognise the College's inclusion in the Boys' Education Lighthouse Schools (BELS) initiative. Christian Brothers College and its partner schools (Endeavour College, Blackfriars Priory School, Adelaide High School and Prescott College) will work to develop strategies that improve boys' academic motivation. Focusing mainly on Year 8 students, the project will create partnerships with universities in order to build the leadership potential of classroom teachers in the area of boys' education.

Indigenous Ministry

Schools mount indigenous displays

At the recent Indigenous Reference Group meeting, Noel Mifsud and John Jacky took copies of the Reconciliation statement to share with ministries in SA/WA respectively.

Schools are now in the process of mounting displays and our photo shows part of the indigenous display at CBC Adelaide.

Rostrevor has published images of their display in the College Magazine.

Christian Brothers' Agricultural School, Tardun

Spreading their wings

The Year 9 and 10 boys from Tardun certainly "spread their wings" in their week of work experience in the last week of term. They were to be found in diverse locations all around the State as the following photos show...

Aaron Worsdell and wombat at Cavesham Wild Life Park

Shaun Forsyth with Wendy Mann at Geraldton Air Charter.

Jason Morrissey at Westrac the home of Catepilla earthmoving equipment

Tim White at Roleystone Auto

Matt Jones after cleaning cages at Eastern Hills Veterinary Centre Mundaring

James Brice behind the bar at the Vines.


And guess what? If you managed to get this far you've reached the last page of this newsletter. Best wishes 'til next time. Brian Coyne.


Edmund Rice Family News is edited and produced by Brian Coyne for the Holy Spirit Province of the Christian Brothers
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