The Southern Cross : April 2011
April 2011 Page 21 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross obituaries | Guardians of Catholic education Born and bred in Queensland, Alan McDonald came to the Salesians in Victoria when he was only 15 and after many years there, spent the last 26 years in South Australia at Brooklyn Park. His arrival at Rupertswood in 1933 was preceded by his being the winner of the brass baritone saxophone solo at one of Australia's most significant music competitions. He was a member of a group of young Australians who prepared for the Salesian life at Sunbury and set out for England in 1934. Alan spent very happy years abroad and returned to Australia via the Panama Canal during the war years. He arrived home in 1943 to complete his priestly studies at Rupertswood and was ordained a priest by Archbishop Mannix at St Patrick's Cathedral. The year after his ordination, he was appointed Prefect of Studies at Rupertswood and then Rector until 1958. He was instrumental in the development of Salesian College, Chadstone. Alan was a consummate teacher. With a BA in Classics and English from London University and the highest level of recognition from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, he was ready for the challenge of an emerging secondary school. His assiduous attention to preparing classes, correcting papers, and following each student made him an outstanding teacher. He was reappointed Rector at Rupertswood in 1964, in the years when Fr Frank Freeman was finishing off the task Alan had begun by taking the College through to Matriculation. At this stage in his life, Alan had been at the helm from 1946 till 1969. Although his remaining years saw him in less onerous missions at Chadstone and Brooklyn Park, the years he regarded as his happiest followed. He worked as an official translator at the General House of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Rome from 1972-73, and then again from 1980-1983. Again his qualified, calm and joyful presence made a great impression. He was eventually appointed the Vice Rector of the community there, although Alan once said that all it meant was that he occasionally said the prayer at meals, and poured out the soup! He returned to Brooklyn Park in 1984, and was a member of that community until February 9 of this year. Initially Alan made excellent contributions to the life of the community and the parish, and continued a great deal of highly qualified translating work for the Congregation and the Province. Among the material he had sent to the archives, there is an amazing USB stick containing translations into English of almost all the early letters surrounding the arrival of the first Salesians in Australia. These years were also highlighted by Alan's adventurous scooter riding, especially his annual trip to Melbourne and back for the retreat. Eventually he fell off on one of those trips, and he decided to end his days on the scooter. He was blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful community, and special mention must be made of Fr Brendan Murphy and Fr Joseph Lee, two Rectors at Brooklyn Park with remarkable gifts in their care for the elderly. He moved into Flora McDonald Home where he was able to pray and say his Mass, thanks to the wonderful and devoted assistance of John Warden, a resident at the hostel who guided Alan through his Mass every day. Neil Richard Pratt was born one of nine children to Osmund and Kathleen. He began school at Cabra before moving to Sacred Heart College where he later became principal. After completing his Intermediate Certificate in 1939, he began his training at the Marist Juniorate in Mittagong NSW. A keen cricketer, a highly intelligent student, a jovial companion and a talented singer/performer, he entered fully into life at Mittagong. He made his first vows as a Marist Brother in 1943 and began his teaching career immediately. Evenasayoungmanhehada natural authority which meant that he had his class well-motivated. He was an excellent teacher, well-prepared and organised, both challenging and encouraging of his students. What followed was 22 years of unbroken service, teaching in senior science. Not satisfied with his science degree, he then undertook higher studies in education and graduated with a Bachelor of Education in 1964, again completed on a part time basis. In 1965 Br Col attended the Second Novitiate for five months in Fribourg, Switzerland. His next four years teaching science at Sacred Heart College was a wonderful time for him. He knew the geology of South Australia like the back of his hand and one of his proudest achievements was being the President of the South Australian Science Teachers Association, becoming the National President and organising and leading the national conference at Rostrevor. Br Col had three principalships: Sacred Heart College in 1970, Assumption College in 1977, Notre Dame College at Shepparton in Victoria in 1987. His concept of leading a school was to ensure that the school was a place of learning and of faith. He students to pull their socks up, to behave themselves, to study and work hard. In many ways Br Col saw himself as a guardian of Catholic education. Never marching to the beat of another's drum -- or the latest fad of the postmodern movement -- he lamented that not all shared or understood his high ideals and aspirations. His contribution to the Australian Education landscape -- and to Catholic education in particular -- did not go unrecognised and in the Australia Day Honours for 2000 he was appointed a member of the order of Australia for his outstanding service to education. It was in the 1970s during a Course at the East Asian Pastoral Institute, that Br Col's love affair with the Philippines began and in 1980 he arranged a transfer to the Marist University at Notre Dame de Marbel in the Philippines. He was invited back to the Philippines to manage the Marist Asian Centre for Young Marist Brothers who were undertaking their post novitiate training. He was Dean of Students and had the responsibility of organising their university courses. As well he was managing the building project there. At the age of 68, this turned out to be a hard task but one he persevered with until the task was done. Despite bouts of typhoid and dengue, and even though there were typhoons, floods and volcanic eruptions, it was a wonderful time for him personally and spiritually. When Br Col returned to Sacred Heart College at the age of 70, he undertook the role of archivist. This was an extraordinary gift to the College when he turned his considerable talents to the task of preserving and recording the history of the place. He wrote numerous publications including one on his beloved Paringa Hall. He concluded a biography of the founder of the College, Br Stephen Debourg, and a centenary history of boarding at the College from 1905 at Largs Bay. His achievement in overseeing the College's successful centenary celebrations in 1997 was acknowledged by the planting of a tree in his honour. Brother Col was a passionate man and it was not his way to "play it cool". He could be controlling, fiery and impatient but basically he was amanoftheheartandamanof prayer. Br Columbanus Pratt FMS Born December 13, 1924 Died February 19, 2011 Fr Alan C. McDonald SDB Born June 24, 1918 Died February 9, 2011 www.ctcsa.edu.au Catholic Theological College of SA Symbol of Horror or Hope? (payable at the door) Sacred Heart College students make a guard of honour for Brother Columbanus' funeral.