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Pelican : November 2009
3 Tribute to Brother Bernard Gartland For anyone seeking evidence of the power of great teaching and spiritual leadership, Brother Bernard Gartland provides that proof. A product of the Christian Brothers education system -- and of the spiritual life that accompanies it -- Br Bernie cannot speak highly enough of the teachers who instructed him along his life's journey. And he believes the teachers at St Edmund's College, Canberra, were the best of all. That's where he got his start, and you couldn't find a better role model. Br Bernie was at school at St Edmund's in the early seventies, where he says Headmaster Br Gordon Kerr always managed to attract the very best staff. He loved the three years he spent there where there was an intimate community atmosphere, strong sporting culture and creative outlets through plays and music. It was during this time that the vocation of Brothers came to him, and he joined the Brothers and the teaching profession as soon as he could. "I started out teaching primary school classes at Lewisham in 1979 and was appointed to St Edmund's in 1982", he says. "And I learnt early on that the more engaged parents are in their children's education, the more likely the children are to succeed." This was reinforced during his time at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, where families were more fractured and parents couldn't afford to be as involved in their children's schooling. One of Br Bernie's most challenging times was at St Mary's Cathedral under the leadership of Br Michael Hoffman where the demolition of school buildings, construction of new ones, and movement of 700 students plus teachers to another site occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This experience gave him a good background working with many professional tradespeople, architects and consultants for the maintenance and building project at the Christian Brothers High School, Lewisham, where he had become Deputy Principal after four years at Edmund Rice College, Wollongong. In 2002 he had a change of direction, being elected to the St Mary's Province (NSW and ACT) and joining the Christian Brothers Leadership Team. The team appointed Brothers to communities, ministries and schools (making the most of the talents of Christian Brothers, staff members and people of the Edmund Rice network) and helped to run 10 schools in the ACT and NSW. The leadership team in NSW and the other leadership teams across Australia agreed to the formation of Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA), as well as starting the process to transfer other former provinces to the Oceania Province. After five years on the Leadership Team, Br Bernie is proud of the team's work to streamline processes, save resources and generate growth in new and developing areas. Br Bernie was also on the St Edmund's College Board for five years, and is now a member of the EREA Board. Along with the EREA Executive and Council, the Board is responsible for the education of some 37,000 students across Australia. Br Bernard also coordinates the work of the regional ministries in NSW helping to link Edmund Rice Community Services (now MacKillop Family Services), the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, the Indigenous Ministries and Edmund Rice Camps to other services and networks with the newly formed Province of Oceania. An additional role is to encourage the Vocation of the Christian Brother and the Edmund Rice Network. "We're living in a more diverse and complex society now", Br Bernie says, "and St Edmund's has handled its transition through the decades with pride and with its spiritual, educational outreach and extra-curricular activities well. "The school has been blessed with some very fine leaders, senior management teams and staff who have made a vocation of teaching and supporting Canberra's young men. The Christian Brothers are indebted to these people for carrying on the mission of Jesus through the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice. I think that's a great achievement in today's world, and I'm pleased to have played a small role in this as well." Teachers who inspired Brother Bernie at St Edmund's include: • Br Don Gallagher who, at the age of 83, is retiring artist in residence • Michael Bright, an innovative language teacher who brought foreign language speakers into the classroom so students could converse in the language • Br Jus Owens, who inspired great woodwork creations • Graham English, a terrifc poetry teacher • Br Frank McCarthy, who developed in his students a love for Latin and the Catholic faith • Br Bob Wallace, dedicated Headmaster and great follower of rugby. Pat Doyle, Michael Moloney, Paul Maloney and Shirley Rayner have all made significant contributions to St Edmund's College, its students and staff, as staff members over a period of close to 30 years. Mrs Val Crossley (Blewitt), like so many other parents, has given years of dedicated volunteer service to the College. Br David Standen, current Principal of St Mary's Cathedral Sydney, is an old boy of the College where he and his two brothers attended St Edmund's. Br Standen's father and mother were very involved in the early days of the College. The Standen Oval at St Edmund's has been named after them. Jeneen McLeod Brother Bernard Gartland.