After 112 years the brothers bid farewell

IT marks the end of an era when the last Christian Brothers leave Warrnambool next month after a 112-year association and contribution to Catholic education in the region. 

The three remaining brothers were officially farewelled on Sunday with a Mass celebrated at St Joseph’s by Bishop Paul Bird and Father John Fitzgerald, followed by a farewell lunch at Emmanuel College.

The city’s long association with the brotherhood began with Brother Egan’s arrival in Warrnambool in January 1902 and hundreds of Christian Brothers followed, contributing to teaching and community work in the region. 

The Sisters of Mercy established St Ann’s College in 1872 and in 1902 St Joseph’s Christian Brothers began a boys’ school laying the foundations of today’s co-educational Emmanuel College. 

Brothers Gabe Rowbottom, Hugh Sharpe and Dermot Shortill were the last of the movement to live in Warrnambool and spoke fondly of their time in the region on Sunday.

The trio said highlights included making valued friendships, their work and being warmly welcomed into the Warrnambool community. 

The event was attended by Christian Brothers Oceania province leader Brother Vince Duggan, the Sisters of Mercy and Christian Brothers, and past and present Emmanuel College teachers, students and parents. It included a lunch, historical display, the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and a tree planting to mark the brothers’ contribution since 1902. 

Emmanuel College principal Peter Morgan said the final three brothers represented a human link to the hundreds of men who gave dedicated and committed service to the school.

“We have men like the Christian Brothers and schools like CBC Warrnambool to thank for laying the foundations that gave rise to the equality and the opportunities we experience today,” Mr Morgan said. 

“The brothers recognised the liberating power of education and through their presence here in Warrnambool brought liberation to those they taught.  

“The brothers from Brother Egan onwards educated thousands of Warrnambool boys, providing them with avenues, opportunities and pathways that did not at all times during those 112 years come readily to Catholic boys.”

Director of marketing Jean Christie said past students who had attended the boys’ college in the 1940s and ’50s travelled from Melbourne and around the state to attend.

Former teachers also commented on the the positive influence the teaching brothers had on their own careers. 

“There’s a lot of loyalty and respect for those brothers. They had a lot of influence,” Ms Christie said.

The former Warrnambool brothers will relocate to Melbourne

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