Band of brothers makes way for a layman

Sydney's most prestigious Marist Brothers school has broken with a 125-year tradition to appoint its first lay headmaster.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill - or "Joeys" - has appointed Ross Tarlinton to replace Br Paul Hough.

Mr Tarlinton, who in 2001 also became the first lay headmaster at Marist College, Canberra, takes up his new position on Monday, when the school's 970 students return from holidays.

Yesterday, he said it was an "absolute honour" to lead Joeys, whose old boys include the Chief Justice, Murray Gleeson, the former governor-general Sir William Deane and Mr Tarlinton's father, Frank, who attended in the 1920s.

The French founder of the Marist tradition, St Marcellin Champagnat, had encouraged lay and religious teachers to work together during the 1800s.

"The Marist tradition is not at risk at all," Mr Tarlinton said. "The brothers' appointment of me as a layman is a recognition of, at this point in time, the most suitable person for this role, with the experience required."

The father of three worked for the Catholic Education Office in Lismore for 10 years, serving as deputy director of schools for three years. He has also taught at Trinity Catholic College, Lismore, and at Catholic schools in Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah.

Joeys has a strong rugby tradition, with 52 GPS rugby premierships since 1895.

"I'm glad we do well at rugby, but that's just part of the profile," Mr Tarlinton said. "There are other things that are emphasised equally and in many cases more so than rugby, particularly the teaching and learning.

"We are right on the edge of embarking upon a planned direction for the college that has had a broad community consultation."

Australia-wide, one-fifth of students now attend Catholic schools, said Br Kelvin Canavan, executive director of the Sydney Catholic Education Office.

Until 1972, all Catholic school principals in Sydney were religious sisters or brothers. Br Canavan said Mr Tarlinton's appointment will reduce the number of religious principals in Sydney to 18 out of 168 schools.

"The transition from religious to lay principal and teachers has been remarkably smooth," he said.

Band of brothers makes way for a layman (Sydney Morning Herald 26/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill
Marist Brothers - Sydney Province

26 Apr 2006