Posted by Mr Peter Houlihan
on 13 April 2019
This morning I received the following message from Br David Hawke:
Please pray for the eternal rest of our beloved Brother Julian Watson who passed away peacefully this morning at around 2.30 am local time.
Julian, the doyen of the District, one of its treasures, served faithfully for over 80 years across Australia and New Zealand.
We pray for Julian's eternal rest, for the Malvern community and for his brother Ray and sister-in-law Rosemary.
May Julian rest in peace.
Many of us at Malvern will remember Br Julian fondly for his remarkable record of service to the District and his longevity and tremendous health, which only really began failing him less than 12 months ago. I will provide below the biographical details I sent to our community in March last year as we celebrated Br Julian's 80th anniversary of service as a De La Salle Brother. Given his health and positivity we were hopeful Julian would be around Malvern for a bit longer but his health began to wane ( in his 97th year!) and he moved last year into the Mary McKillop aged care facility in Hawthorn East, where he was cared for as his condition began to deteriorate.
On Wednesday afternoon this week (i.e. March 2018) we gathered as a staff, complemented by several visiting De La Salle Brothers, to acknowledge and celebrate Br Julian Watson's 80 years of service for the Human and Christian Education of young people.
In the contemporary world where our graduating students entering the workforce can expect to change careers multiple times in their working life and indeed be employed in roles not even yet invented, 80 years of committed service to the one organisation is a sobering thought. It is also a record and an achievement worth celebrating, if we may indulge ourselves for a moment in a fondness for memories of a bygone era of perhaps less complicated times. In this week's Duce I would like to relate a little of Br Julian's career and achievements which were shared with the staff at the afternoon tea on Wednesday.
Keith James Watson was born on 8th January 1922 at East Melbourne, second eldest of four children. The De La Salle Brothers at St Ignatius School in Richmond educated Keith, before he entered the Brothers Novitiate at Castle Hill, Sydney on 21st January 1938. Two months later on 18th March, Keith took the habit of the De La Salle Brothers and proudly adopted the new name Br Julian Bernard.
A stellar teaching and leadership career ensued, highlighted by a powerful and broad reaching influence on many thousands of students and a variety of De La Salle Colleges around eastern Australia and New Zealand.
In 1940 Br Julian began work at De La Salle College, Marrickville, and throughout the '40s he made significant contributions at De La Salle College, Orange and De La Salle College, Cronulla.
Moving back to his native Melbourne in February 1947 Br Julian arrived here at De La Salle College Malvern. In an environment that would challenge many of us, Julian taught his younger brother, Ray in the Year 8 Scholarship class. Despite fabled stories of forged notes from home in relation to failure to complete homework, both Ray and Br Julian survived the experience and Julian taught the Scholarship class of Year 8s for three years. While he was a Humanities and RE specialist, Julian reckons he taught "pretty much everything" in his career.
Many Australian and New Zealand Brothers credit Br Julian with being a genuine pioneer as he was primarily responsible for the successful establishment of three De La Salle Colleges for our Kiwi colleagues.
In 1953 Br Julian became Principal and Director at St Mary's School, Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand, the first Lasallian school in NZ. He would later move to Auckland and take on the roles of Principal and Director at De La Salle College, Mangere East. Ever the expansionist visionary, Julian then became Principal and Director of Francis Douglas College at New Plymouth, a role in which he served with distinction for 10 years.
Julian then returned to Australia where he worked at De La Salle College, Scarborough, in southern Queensland. It was then back to his beloved Malvern from 1978 - 1987 where he operated as a teacher and Community Director. Julian's skills were sought after in a range of spheres and in another interlude he found himself at Mentone as Director of five young Brothers in formation.
The beginning of 1989 saw Br Julian return to Malvern where he served as Deputy Principal and Community Director until 1993. In 1994 he was Assistant to Br David Hawke in the care of elderly Brothers during David's first term as Provincial, before retirement and living in Malvern community, where he remains today, remarkably fit and well at age 96.
After the formalities and cutting of the celebratory cake, Br Julian spoke to the staff and guests. It was terrific to hear a man of such an impeccable career of service, dedication, faith and leadership reflect so humbly. Julian wondered if it was really him we were speaking about when listening to his record built up over eight decades!
All present were thrilled and grateful to hear his heartfelt words of the support, camaraderie and sense of community he has experienced in his many years here at De La Salle Malvern. Generations of terrific young men to work with, coming from wonderful families and supported by a great staff have been Julian's key reflections of his time in and around our College. I was very pleased to assure him those qualities he referred to in relation to our students, families and staff all remain very much present in 2018.
We are blessed to work and learn in such a positive environment and we are blessed to have the experience and contribution of a wonderful man like Br Julian Watson.
The arrangements to celebrate the life and entry into eternal life of Br Julian Watson are as follows:
Mass of Thanksgiving for the Life of Br Julian Watson FSC - Wednesaday 17 April 2019, St Joseph's Catholic Church, Malvern commencing at 11.00am
Rite of Committal and Final Commendation - Easter Tuesday 23 April 2019, Castle Hill, commencing at 10.30am.
Eternal rest grant unto Br Julian , O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him .
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.