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End of an Era for Br Gerry Barrett

Posted on 13 January 2020
End of an Era for Br Gerry Barrett

Brother Gerald Barrett has been a part of the La Salle Bankstown community since 2008. Br Gerry as he is so fondly known, has always been a fantastic ambassador of the Lasallian religious community, and an advocate for student learning and quality education as demonstrated by his classroom passion, as well as the after school Year 7-12 Mathematics program he offered our students to further develop an understanding of mathematical concepts. Br Gerry has always welcomed new staff members to the community, giving very generously of his personal time to support their knowledge of the Lasallian charism. 

Br Gerry has made that difficult decision to retire to take up other interests. The La Salle Bankstown Community are saddened that his leaving represents an end of an era - that wonderful religious presence in the College however, testament to Br Gerry's passion for education and La Salle, he will continue to be seen around the College as he wishes to act in a volunteer capacity to assist the students. Br Gerry's cheery nature and great sense of humour will be sorely missed.

Br Gerry celebrated 50 years as a De La Salle Brother in 2019. Born on the 3rd September 1950 in Cootamundra, NSW. He was educated by the Sisters of Mercy and the De La Salle Brothers in Cootamundra and in Year 11 and 12 at De La Salle Cronulla, House of Studies. Br Gerald joined the Novitiate at Burradoo in 1969 and undertook his teacher qualification studies at Castle Hill.

Brother Gerald's teaching career included appointments at Oakhill College Castle Hill, Scarborough, Orange and Derby (Principal), all in Primary Education, and he later transferred to Secondary Education in Malvern, Beaudesert and Bankstown. Br Gerry considers himself fortunate to have attended a renewal program at Sangre New Mexico and the CIL program for Directors in Rome.

We sat down with Br Gerry.

What made you want to join the De La Salle Brothers?

I would have to say that it was the contact and influence of the Brothers who taught me at De La Salle, Cootamundra.

Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you over the past 50 years?

The one that sits firmly in my memory is back in 1989 when I was Principal of Holy Rosary, Derby. Halfway through the year, my father passed away. Upon my return, I was sitting outside my office at the end of the day when a Year 2 boy, Jordie, came up and asked if I was feeling sad. When I said, just a little, his reply was "don't worry, you have us". Aboriginal people have a great sense of family and belonging.

What has your favourite assignment been? Explain?

This is a question asked by students when they ask me what was my favourite school, to which I respond that each has its special memory and I have always been happy with the places I have taught and lived in.

What was your hardest assignment as a Brother? Explain.

My hardest assignment would have to have been working at Boystown, Beaudesert. I suppose I felt a little ill-prepared to deal with students with huge problems. At the same time, there were also some good memories.

Who has been the biggest influence/s on your life? What lessons did that person/s teach you?

The two biggest influences in my life would have to be my Grandmother and my mother. Both taught me how to be generous and to be less self-centred, and to treat all people in your life with as much love and respect as you possibly can.

What are the most important lessons you've learned in life?

For me, the most important lesson has been that no matter who you are, how old you are, there is always something that you can do. I believe that I can still make a difference in my time here at La Salle just by being true to myself, to treat all with respect and by being the best you can with the gifts and talents that the Almighty has given to each of us.

What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?

Probably one of the most profound experiences in life was when I was teaching in Orange. The former Principal was Sr. Clare Murphy, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had six months to live. She was living with her elderly parents when I decided to visit her and try to cheer her up. I informed her that I was taking up the position of Principal in Derby and wasn't sure how it would work out. During our moment together she said, "Gerry, I don't know why this is happening to me. When I finally die I am sure God will be there to greet me and to let me know WHY."



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