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Premier pays tribute to Christian Brothers' schools ministry

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has praised the Brothers' "passion, commitment and discipline" following the announcement of the order's international leader that it is switching its focus from schools to missions in Asia.

Bracks, an old boy of the Christian Brothers' St Patrick's College, Ballarat (1967-71), told The Age" "The brothers had a historical commitment to education to success, particularly for families who had made their way to Australia from other parts of the world.

"Passion, commitment and discipline were the hallmarks of a Christian Brothers education," he said.

Congregational Leader Br Philip Pinto will visit Australia this month. He told the leader of the Brothers in Western Australia and South Australia that Schools is "generally not the type of ministry that fires the imagination and attracts the idealism and commitment of today's young people."

He identified missions in the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia, and work with the marginalised, as "greater areas of need".

Their leader for Victoria and Tasmania, Br Peter Dowling, told The Age that there is some sadness among the brothers at the prospect of leaving teaching, particularly among the older men.

The Brothers came to Melbourne in 1868, opened Parade College, in East Melbourne, in 1871, and CBC St Kilda, the oldest inner-city brothers' school still on its original site, in 1878.

Only one Christian Brothers school in Victoria, Parade College Bundoora, now has a brother as head. In a break with tradition, the brothers recently appointed the first woman principal, Maree Johnson, to St Joseph's College, Melbourne.

Brother Dowling said dwindling numbers of brothers had been a factor in the change of direction. The exposure of pedophilia by brothers "certainly had not helped", he said. "Three of our men are in jail."

Brothers' marching orders (The Age 10/7/04)

Chris McGillion: Christian Brothers tend a wider flock (Sydney Morning Herald 12/7/04)
Christian Brothers world leader signals end of schools ministry (CathNews 8/7/04)
The Philippines brief to Brs Rod Ellyard and Steve McLaughlin (Edmund Rice Network News July 2004)
Edmund Rice Network News
Brothers seek 'spiritual accountability' in youth programs (CathNews 20/2/04)
Edmund Rice Network throughout Australia - Peter Nicholson (Feb 03)
The Christian Brothers in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea
Edmund Rice Online
Christian Brothers Congregational Leadership Team

12 Jul 2004