My name is Brian Bond. I am a member of the Christian Brothers, a Catholic Religious Order of Brothers founded by Blessed Edmund Rice in 1802 in Waterford, Ireland for the education of poor boys. The Order has traditionally conducted schools (and still does) but more recently its members have diversified into a broad range of other educational ministries to youth and the disadvantaged.
Why did I become a Brother?,
I have often been asked that question, including occasionally by family members, so I thought I might briefly share something here in response.
Firstly, I was raised in a Catholic family where religious faith and practice was important - particularly for my mother. Secondly I received my entire education in Catholic schools (and I first encountered the Christian Brothers when I commenced my secondary schooling).
Like most, as a child I accepted unquestioningly all that I was brought up to believe and it was not until my teenage years that I began to question and think things through for myself. One thing I remember being convinced about at the outset was that I must either broadly accept what I had been taught or reject it, and if I accepted it then I should be as fully committed to it as possible, I should not be a half-hearted in my response in other words.
As I reflected on what I had been taught, I came to the conclusion that I believed in a creator. I could not understand how anything could even come into existence in the first place otherwise. I don’t think I fully accepted all the ideas in circulation about what God was like though, and there seemed many ideas about the nature of God even within the Catholic tradition. Nowadays I believe the term "the mystery we call God" sums up my understanding although I would not have articulated it in those terms then.
As someone who from an early age took an interest in what was happening at a global level and who wanted to make a difference by contributing to the building of a more just and peaceful world, I was also attracted by the teaching of Jesus (which is of course the basis of the Christian religion). In particular I was inspired by Catholic social teaching that I was introduced to in some of my religious education classes at school.
I gradually came to the conclusion that yes, broadly speaking I accepted what I had been taught and I was therefore committed to living my faith as well as I could. I still questioned many things of course, and that questioning continued over the next 50 years and still continues today. My understandings and beliefs have evolved, but the core of my beliefs is unchanged.
Once I had decided to be committed to living my faith as well as I could, a further question began to nag at me: was something more asked of me?. At about this time a chance encounter with one of my Christian Brother teachers led to a conversation about my plans when I left school. In the course of that conversation he said "Have you ever thought about being a Brother? We could do with a fine young man like you!" Until then I had never considered that possibility, partly I am sure because I never considered myself "holy" or good enough to join such a group. The seed of the idea was planted however and gradually took root and began to grow. Initially I resisted the idea. I had reached the age when I was becoming aware of girls and even though I was too shy to approach or get to know any, the prospect of doing so was attractive.
Eventually I think my decision to join the Brothers can best be summed up with a quotation I came across many years later: "regret for the things we do is tempered by time, it is regret for the things we did not do that haunts us". I decided that I needed to test my calling as I did not want to spend the rest of my life wondering "what if?" I think that I probably agreed with a friend of mine who said when I told him of my decision "you will only last a few weeks"! I think I believed that I would try it, find I was not suited, and then return home and get on with the rest of my life. At least I would then have put that nagging question to rest.
Instead things did not work out that way and I am still a Brother. Why? I suppose despite all that has happened I have retained a belief in the initial vision that inspired me. I have also enjoyed the companionship of those who shared my idealism and have experienced love and the kindness of friends in many parts of the world. I have enjoyed my involvement in schools and I have been blessed with so many opportunities for education and travel that I am sure I would not have had otherwise.
Of course it has not always been plain sailing - life never is for any of us. There have been doubts and disappointments along the way, and in recent times revelations have emerged about serious failings in the church and in the Brothers. Despite that, I continue to believe in the value and importance of what I do, and overall I have no regrets about my decision so many years ago to take "the road less-travelled".
At present Christian Brothers are to be found working in Africa (Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe); The Americas (Argentine, Bolivia, Canada, Dominica, Paraguay, Peru and the USA); Asia (China and India); Europe (England, France, Ireland and Italy); and Oceania (Australia, East Timor, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines).
Throughout Australia and the world are many who identify with the ideals of Edmund Rice, who support the work of the Brothers and who seek to live out a committment to these ideals through their involvement with the Edmund Rice Network.
SCHOOLS IN WHICH I HAVE TAUGHTAquinas College, Ringwood (1970);
Guildford Young College, Hobart (1996); and
Chanel College Geelong (Deputy Principal (1997-1999).
In 1977 I studied full-time at the University of Melbourne and completed a Science degree. In 1995-1996 I was granted further study leave which was spent mainly in Jerusalem and Dublin.
In Feb 2000 I took up residence in the Community House at "Amberley" in Lower Plenty (a north-eastern suburb of Melbourne) as facilitator of the community of five young adults whilst at the same time engaging in a variety of projects across the network of Brothers' schools in the then (St Patricks) south-eastern Australian Province.
In 2004 I lived in the Brother's Community at Rosanna in north-east Melbourne. In 2005 I moved again to a new community in Sunshine in the western suburbs of Melbourne, which was formed to support an outreach to refugee families through the provision of an after-school homework tuition program staffed by volunteers.During the period 2000-2007 my role was to raise the awareness of Brothers' and school communities in regard to justice issues. My activities included:-
Some of my essays on justice themes undertaken as part of my study towards a Diploma of Social Justice Studies at can be read here
Convenor of the Australia New Zealand Edmund Rice Volunteer Scheme (ANZERVS) which involved overseeing the preparation, placement and debriefing of (mainly young) people who volunteer to share in the Brothers' ministry in Australia and abroad.
Secretary of the Australian Missionary Network a sub-committee of the Catholic Religious Australia (CRA)
Board of Management of St Kevins CollegeMember of the Youth and Young Adult Edmund Rice Network (YERN) Committee
Executive Officer of the Edmund Rice Network Co-ordinating Committee. Part of that role involved editing the publication Edmund Rice Network News
Member of the National Co-ordinating Group for the Edmund Rice Network in Australia and New Zealand
CURRENT RESPONSIBILITYIn October 2007 I took up a position with Edmund Rice International near Geneva Switzerland, (I actually live at Gaillard in France) where I am involved advocacy for the global promotion of social justice and human rights. You can learn more about the work of ERI through the ERI newsletter which I also produce.
Those interested can follow progress of this initiative and my life in Geneva through an online diary I have maintained. I also have a presence on Facebook
I am a passionate supporter (and member) of the Geelong Football Club
History, especially family history, and have included an account of my own family history on this website.
I have been fortunate to having had the opportunity to travel widely,
mainly in Europe but also in Africa and Asia where I have been able to
enjoy meeting with and learning from people of different cultures.
In late 2005 I attended the "Flare Up Like a Flame" Social Justice Symposium in Kolkata, India, and in July 2006 I participated in the "Karibu" cross-cultural immersion program in Nairobi, Kenya. Some photos from those events can be found here - just enter the tag 'brianbond' and do a search
Whilst Principal at Parade I helped establish a "sister school" exchange program with Takada High School in Mie Prefecture Japan.
NOTE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS,
I don't know what will happen to this website when I am gone, or how long it will remain accessible, but I would like to leave a message for any future family members who might happen to read this.
I am not particularly 'political', and certainly not 'party political', but as indicated above, I do have a desire to help contribute to the creation of a more just world where all can live in peace and freedom, and my work on behalf of ERI at the Human Rights Council is intended to influence the decision makers who can help bring about that world, which ultimately I believe all are seeking.
I feel privileged to have grown-up and lived in a time and a place that has enabled me to enjoy a lifestyle that is denied to so many in our world, and which so many of my ancestors could never have dreamed was possible.
I grew up with a pride in my country Australia, a country in which I felt free and safe, and one which I believed was a champion of human rights and an example to much of the world. Sadly all that has changed in recent years. I never imagined that I would ever see the day when Australia would support the establishment of what amount to concentration camps where people who have committed no crime may be held indefinitely, murdered with impunity (Reza Berati), sexually abused, and denied access to adequate health and education, where the media is effectively excluded and anyone with first-hand knowledge of what is taking place faces imprisonment for speaking out. I am referring of course to Australia's policy of mistreating asylum seekers, those who have turned to us for protection, in order to deter others. Claims that the policy is to prevent deaths at sea ring hollow given the policy was enacted long before there were any such deaths.
What is perhaps more disturbing is that Australians have allowed this to happen. I am reminded of the silence of the majority of the German population about the mistreatment and persecution of the Jews in the years preceeding World War II.
When history eventually judges us for what is happening, I want future generations to know that at least one member of our family (and I am sure there are others), were opposed to what is taking place and spoke out against it
Similarly on the issue of climate change. Whilst I am hopeful that the world is at last moving to address the issue, I am not confident that the political will exists to make the changes needed. Again, sadly, Australia as one of the world's wealthiest countries and one of the biggest contributors to climate change (on a per capita basis), appears to be making every effort to resist taking action.
Again, if and when future generations look back and ask how we could be so selfish and blind, I want them to know that at least one member of our family was active in marching, signing petitions and lobbying political leaders in order to preserve our planet, our only home, for the benefit of future generations.
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