Monday, January 28, 2019

Missin' you Rose Bridget

Death Notice: Rose Bridget Fernandes

January 27, 2019: With trembling hearts, we share the news of the passing of Rose Bridget Fernandes (ex Nairobi, Slough and Sydney) daughter of the late Andre and late Rosa Maria Fernandes. Wife of Gary Wilson. Sister of Cyprian (late Rufina), late Hippol (Philomena), Johnny (Matilda) late Peter (Jenny) and Flora (Harold). Aunt of Andi, Leon, Carl, Lee-John, Lou-Alan, Mary-Ann, Michael, Priscilla, John-Paul and Jenipet. Funeral details will be published as soon as they are finalised.
In lieu of flowers, Rose would have much appreciated a donation to Pancreatic research. 

Condolences to,

Rose Bridget


There is an aching, an emptiness, a hole in my heart …


I have not understood.

You are in Heaven, I should be happy for you.

You went away in Peace, what we all wish for.

None wanted you to suffer.

Now we celebrate your life, remember the good times,

The smiles, the laughter, the quirks, your successes,

The things you were passionate about, the memories we made together,

A lifetime of growing up with brothers and a sister,

The years with Mum, the nostalgia of life in Kenya, England and Australia

Lives we entwined with others, friends, colleagues,

People who inspired us, people we admired,

The world we travelled, new experiences, vistas, wonders,

And people from all corners of the world,

Some friends for life,

Your devotion to your God, Always,

And to your siblings, nephews and nieces,

Whatever you achieved, you did it your way,

No Regrets, Not a Problem, It’ll be OK


Forever the smile, the extended hand in greeting,

Always caring for others, anyone, anywhere,

Just walking, love it, you said,

No surrender. Ask them. Ask them again...

They have to do it properly, not good enough otherwise,

Insist on good work, good quality, don’t sell yourself short.

The cell phone which once ran red hot, the battery on the verge of burning out,

Calling your brother Johnny, again and again, same as your sister Flora,

Now the two phones are quiet, silent, dead even.

You have led the good life, with a few ups and downs,

You are one with your God,

Now you are with Mum, Dad, Hippol and Peter,

You did not suffer in the final hours, all good,


So why I am feeling like my arm, my leg or my heart has been stolen?

Why is life never going to be the same again?

Why am I in pain, my head in a permanent ache?

An emptiness where once life thrived with a gusto,

Because you will not be around  anymore,

To love and care me the way you did,

I cry for myself and the loss of you,

Anyway, Bye Sis …  we’ll talk later, in my heart.





Sunday, January 27, 2019

Rose Bridget Fernandes photo tribute

Flora, David Johnny and Rose 
Dr Bryne John, Rose and her husband Gary
Sisters ... Rose and Flora
With friends
An evening in Uluru
Skip and Rose before boarding the chopper for a tour of Ayres Rock and nearby rock formations
Flora, Matilda, Skip, Johnny, Rose, Gary

Bye Sis, Rose Bridget Fernandes

Bye Sis!

In the dark light of the Midnight Hour when all is calm and silent… just 30 minutes after Australia Day had ended and a new day began, you quietly went away on January 27 in Westmead Hospital in Sydney where you had battled to survive for a month. We will always be grateful that you did not suffer on your journey to Heaven.
And we all died a little with you.

From that saddest of days, October 26, 2017, when you were diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, you never once lost heart over the next 14 months, you never lost your unforgettable smile or your supreme confidence that you “would beat this thing” and you were “never going to let anything stop you from living your life to the fullest.” And that is what you did. I sat with you through all those months of chemotherapy and it was just like having a weekly chat with a friend, full of cheer, laughter, stories, memories, nostalgia, things and people you loved, all the places in the world you travelled (USA, Canada, Goa, India, Kenya, UK, most of Europe, China, Japan (many more than once or several times), your adventures in Australia, hiking all over the country, picking fruit and veg on camping holidays and, of course, your intrepid walks all over the place but especially to church whenever you had the time. You never missed a weekday or a Sunday in church. Your faith was always eternal.

You absolutely revelled in your life, “You don’t need too much money, Skip,” you told me often. Financially, you were the most successful in our family.

Within a few weeks of setting a date for the first chemo session and with time on your hands, you asked me to come on a safari to Australia’s Northern Territory… Uluru, Alice Springs, Darwin, Kakadu National Park … a two week holiday both of us would be talking about past memories, things that needed to be said, and, always of course plenty to laugh about … there was always one more thing you wanted to tell me (or I wanted to tell you) about the wonderful time we spent together.

Of course, once the chemo started, you came to stay with me. I felt truly blessed for the time I would spend with you and memories we would make. Those long chats in between glancing at the TV screens, cooking your favourite dishes or just letting you get on with whatever took your fancy. You were never a patient, always just your bubbly (sometimes very strict about this or that, putting your foot down and say simply: No. That is not good enough.) self, your funny, funny little jokes about this or that or nothing in particular.

Also particularly special for me was the time you spent with Mum … she lived with you in the UK and migrated with you to Australia. With your sister Regina Flora, you were always together and shared some fantastic memories … especially with mum being the funniest and sometimes with a temper that resembled the hottest dried red chillies. However, take her to the local bookies or the slots at the local clubs and she was your friend for life!

All of your life you have been particularly close to your siblings. Our hearts broke when we lost Hippol very early in his life and Peter a few years ago. Both played a big role in your life and gave lots of encouragement on your path to young womanhood. Your brother Johnny was always just a phone call away and you called every day, sometimes three and four times, especially recently. Your sis Regina Flora, the baby of the family has been the one person who has been by your side for always, especially after Mum left us and you were on your own. The three of you seemed to be together all the time. It was an unforgettable time of your life.

The thing that astounded me about you over the past 14 months was that you did not show the slightest hint of being a cancer patient. You did everything, went everywhere and enjoyed whatever you wanted to. You used to even regularly visited your other “home” Blacktown Hospital where you worked and they would all be smiling (and a little curious) to see you looking so well.

One of your friends there described you as “the light that shone on everyone, especially with that beautiful caring smile”.

Like the rest of your siblings, you were a self-made person. You were smallest in height (not much taller than Mum), huge in heart, you let nothing get in the way of your success in every aspect of your life. Each new job taught you a new lesson in life … remember the guy in North Sydney who would not let you have a new pencil until the old one had reached less than an inch (2.5 cm) … you hated that first but you quickly learnt the lesson of prudence, thrift and economy.  Or the boss who told you: Do it yourself … and that was your life motto from that moment on … she will be smiling when she reads this.

There are many, many people in and around the world whose hearts you touched but especially at Blacktown Hospital in the anaesthetics department. The place has not been the same without, according to several of your colleagues.

You were never afraid. You did things, went to places, found new adventures, everything on your own. You encouraged everyone you met to “do it on your own, don’t be afraid.” You certainly inspired your goddaughter Mary-Ann:
Aunty Bridget is my Godmother.  She was always happy and full of fun to be with.  I spent time with her on her trips to visit us in San Francisco and on our many family vacations in Sydney. We always had a great time together.  She was always keen to watch me grow up from a little girl to a young lady and had a lot of advice for me.

“Aunty Bridget had always told me that I should learn to be independent, to not rely on anyone to help take care of me and to be able to stand on my own two feet. She seemed like she felt very strongly about this and that it was very important to her that I too become independent, strong-willed, and strong-minded.

“Her message was heard loud and clear, as that's exactly what I've become. She has always been an inspiration to me, whether it be through her travels around the world on her own, even getting married when she saw fit, and how she lives her life, eating healthy and exercising. Nothing ever seemed too adventurous or too courageous for her.

“When I made my trips to Eastern Europe and then Greece, I had her in my mind when I thought I shouldn't travel on my own, that it would be too difficult, that I would feel lonely, or get lost, or something bad would happen and I wouldn't be able to fend for myself. I felt if she could manage it and have fun, and then I could manage it as well. I understand that God has his own plan for each one of us. She has been one of the most resilient women that I know.

“I will always have a special place in my heart for my dear Aunty Bridget.”

You were always a networker (even when the word had not been invented) …especially in Nairobi. You knew exactly who to talk to or whom to turn for help on behalf of anyone who sought your help. In Sydney, too, your address book was full of names of specialists, doctors, surgeons, nursing staff … and none of them ever said “no” if you ever needed their help … well, maybe just one. You had a smile for everyone, anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Over the past 17 years, you devoted yourself to your husband Gary Wilson. You showed him things that opened up his life, especially the travel.

When the time came, you knew it was time to say “goodbye”. You had been confident that the “pain in the stomach” would away and asked if you could come and stay with me to recuperate. And I said, “of course”. You said: “You know I love your cooking.” (Later when you could not open your eyes or talk too much and I promised you fish curry and rice, a broad smile would light up your face.)

Then some 16 days ago, you looked at me and quietly said: “Skip, I think I am going to die.” Both of us with breaking hearts, trembling bodies, quietly looked at the road ahead. You said: “No regrets, Skip. I have loved my life, my family, my friends, and the things I have achieved. I will never give up the fight … but I know now the Lord may call me sooner … and I will be with Mum, Dad, Hippol and Peter.” We both knew this was “Goodbye” but we could not get ourselves to say the word, it was enough that we just thought it in silence. It was the hardest time. Thank you for being so generous about your feelings towards me. And the next day, you took the first steps on that journey as your body began the slow, slow process of shutting down. But every day, Gary, Flora, Priscilla (niece), Johnny, Matilda and I were with you day and night … we tried to cheer you up, joked, Priscilla played videos of your favourite music especially Jambo Bwana and Abba, and that office video you made … you dancing away to an Abba number … or that scintillating speech you made at a party thrown by Johns family at their home in Strathfield (you were instrumental in hiring Dr Bryne John, and she never forgot that you stood up for her) and lots of other nostalgia. We would get a tiny smile, a twitch, a shake or a nod of the head … in your comatose state you heard everything and everyone … we were grateful for small mercies.

And that day when Johnny arrived from San Francisco … although you could not say much, your face and your smile lit up like a big, big full moon, the Nairobi kind. We were afraid he would be too late; you knew better and waited for him to arrive in Sydney.

There were no tears at our farewell, just a celebration of gratitude for the good memories and promise to face the future as we have always done: with courage and a prayer. “But,” you said, “I will keep on fighting.”

There are many who will shed a tear at your passing …none more so than the many, many people you helped in Western Sydney. You collect clothes, shoes …anything that was useful to the needy and you would share it around. You were always thrifty, but it when it came to the needy, you were very generous.
In the end, it was not the Pancreatic Cancer that killed you, but complications developed from that “pain in the stomach” which led to the eventual shutting down of the kidneys.

Our greatest fear was that you would be in pain and suffer an agonising end to your life. You never gave up. The doctors made you comfortable and said the end was imminent … 31 days ago.

You lived your life your way. You grabbed every single moment in the day and made it your own… even though your illness. You were no less a battler in your last days … you astonished your doctors, the specialists, nurses and other medical staff who were amazed how managed to cling on to life for so long … you only left us when you were ready to say goodbye
The last time I got any response from you was on January 17: I was kidding with you and reminding of the days when you and your friends looked so stylish in those bell bottoms, or flared pants, finished off with pastel coloured blouses, your picnics, visits to the movies, etc in Nairobi. And, a tear rolled down your left eye. When you could not speak with your tongue, you spoke with your eyes and your limited gestures. That image of that final tear will live with me forever. Treasured. Always.

Rose’s Blacktown Hospital world

Helen Currow, head of anesthetics at BH

For more than a quarter of a century, the smiling, happy face of Rose Fernandes has been a part of the culture of initially Blacktown Hospital and then Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals.
Rose was well entrenched as department secretary when I became Head of Department too long ago. However, when I was also appointed as Head of Department at Mount Druitt, Rose kindly took me aside and told me that she would not be coming to Mount Druitt with me and asked that I really take care. She never did come to Mount Druitt with me – by that stage we were able to do whatever was necessary by phone and email – but when she made a social visit to the place, she was very much surprised at how friendly everyone was.
Learning was a two-way street for both of us. Yes, I did tell her, “Do it yourself”. She was quick to pick things up and apply them and learning to do things herself made both her job and mine easier. I also learnt from Rose and together we honed methods of accomplishing all that we did together. From when she first worked in the department it was a time of significant growth and Rose was paramount to this.
As a secretary, Rose was just that: a keeper of the secrets. She deduced things from comings and goings from my office, clarified them with me, but never divulged anything. If someone asked for a phone number, unless she knew them well, it was not imparted. A message was taken and passed on.
Rose was a superb negotiator, especially when it came to financial matters whether for the department or for her family. I would have been powerless to resist her in these contests, but we never had to have one.
Rose loved travelling and it was a world that she opened up to Gary. She loved her native Kenya but travelled extensively and perhaps not always as a main-stream traveller, but always befriending someone she met there and being invited into their homes.
Of recent years it was easy for me to wind Rose up by talking about my retirement which she thought should be decades away. I would tell her that I would be in at work next week, but not sure about the week after. Part of her concern was organising my retirement party as well as continuity of departmental management.
Rose had a definite moral compass and did not tolerate those who did not have as high a standard and were not perhaps as careful with the truth as she was.
When her diagnosis came through, she was about to have her bathroom renovated. This had been in the pipeline a long time and I encouraged her to have it so that she could enjoy it for however long she was going to be around. Later, she thanked me for this as she did enjoy it.
Rose took her diagnosis seriously enough, but certainly did not let it get in the way of her joie de vivre. She remained the happy smiling Rose that we had known all along. During her treatments at Westmead she always had plenty of visitors from the staff who had worked at Blacktown and were now supporting her through her new journey. This encouraged her no end and she remained until the end, the happiest cancer patient, an inspiration for all of us.
It has been a pleasure to have known and worked with Rose in all this time and I will well remember all that I have learnt from her.
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Here’s what one of your Blacktown Hospital colleagues had to say: Rose was a part of my every work day. Because my office is right next to her desk I was very lucky to have developed a wonderful working relationship with her over those 12 years. Rose was always wonderfully happy, one was always certain of a chirpy ‘good morning’!

I have certainly missed all of our little daily interactions. She was forever reminding me to have lunch and go home on time! Rose seemed to know when all the morning teas were happening and frequently I would find a little cake or chocolate slice on my desk. She was always thinking of others throughout her day.

Rose was utterly devoted to her job, the anesthetic department, all of the anesthetists, Helen and Alan in particular. She was somewhat the Mother Hen to all of the new doctors making sure that they knew everything that they had to do and making sure they were where they had to be! Many of the consultants here at Blacktown today would have met Rose first as they came for their interviews as registrars.

Being part of the interview process over so many years Rose became quite skilled at predicting who would get a job and who wouldn’t! A few years ago we started testing her accuracy and named the process ‘Rose’s pick’. Before the end of the interview day, Rose would come to me with the list of interviewee’s names placing a mark against those who she thought were good enough for a job at Blacktown!

It seemed that the only time Rose wasn’t at work was when she was on one of her wonderful holidays! We did particularly love talking about those holidays especially the ones to Europe and London. Without fail Rose would bring me back a small gift, so even on holiday, she was thinking about us all back here at Blacktown. She took great delight in giving these gifts to her favourite colleagues upon her return.

Rose’s resilience, fierce determination to have a great life despite the diagnosis has been truly inspiring. Her visits to see us all throughout last year were always wonderful. It was remarkable to see her looking so happy. She would declare often “Emily I am well! I am good, I am not having any problems”.


I will always be grateful for the care given to Rose Bridget during her last month on earth the palliative care unit of the Westmead Hospital. Many thanks to the wonderful nurses and doctors.

I would like to thank her Oncologist at the Westmead Cancer Care Centre Dr Nagrial and his team of registrars, as well as all the nurses and auxiliary staff at the Cancer Care chemotherapy centre. Every one of the nurses in chemotherapy was exceptional, always cheerful, bright as a button, totally committed and caring ... Rose enjoyed your company even if under difficult circumstances.

Also thanks to all your colleagues at Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospital.

Eulogy for Joker Steve Fernandes

Kwaheri Bwana Mwalimu Steve
Farewell Mr Teacher Steve

Kwaheri Bwana Mwalimu Steve

By Lambert Pereira

I am honoured and indeed privileged to have been requested by Marjorie to deliver this eulogy today for her beloved husband, Steve  --  a man who had an impact on all our lives in so many ways in the past. Each of you here would have your own fond memories of Steve, based on your individual relationships with him. Indeed one could write a novel about the life of one as popular and unique as him. In this regard many of you would have read the very informative and interesting article by the journalist, Cyprian Fernandes, one of Steve’s best friends. I will endeavour therefore not to cover the same ground as done so in Cyprian’s splendid account.

Many here today, like Steve, would have enjoyed all the benefits of living in Kenya, the country of our birth where, in the very cosmopolitan capital city of Nairobi, we spent much of our childhood and adult lives. Our parents would have come from Goa and other lands afar to settle and work in this wonderful land of plenty. They were industrious settlers and brought up their families with hardship and with discipline; and in keeping with treasured values of background and tradition; they forged bonds of love and respect for each other. These bonds of love and respect were to be the foundation stones on which many, like Steve, would have built their own lives and families, be it in Kisumu or Kitale, Karen or Kilimani.

Life growing up in Kenya with its favourable climate, was so very special and enjoyable, with outdoor games like football, hockey, cricket and rounders , and indoor games like badminton, snooker, darts, and carrom. Other activities would have included athletics, gilly-danda, seven tiles, and marbles - not forgetting the many jam-sessions and card games. What about the safari escapades hunting for dik-dik and wildebeest, and of course the sizzling barbecues to boot??   Our favourite meeting places downtown would have been Tropicana, Rendezvous or Mocha Bar.
On the rare occasion when life got boring, there were the un-official lending libraries to enjoy western comics like ‘Kit Carson’ and ‘Buck Jones’ or Annuals like ‘Dandy’ and ‘Beano’!! .  It is no small wonder that sporting lads like Steve, I, and others would have spent more time outdoors than indoors in those nostalgic days.

My own friendship with Steve stemmed back from those days, both at school and on the playing fields. We were proud and privileged to have attended the famous Dr Ribeiro Goan School in Parklands, Nairobi. Like many of our classmates present here today, we completed our schooling in 1959. We had fond memories of those days and of our esteemed teachers – Mr Martins, Mr Tavares, Mr Britto, Mr Nunes and Mrs Jacques, Mrs Coutinho, Mrs Saldanha, and Mrs Lobo, all of whom were
Good in their chosen subjects.

I recall that in one particular year (possibly Form 2), Steve and I shared the same hard wooden bench, right at the back of the class (for obvious reasons). This meant that more often than not, we would be a definite distraction to each other, to the teachers and to other classmates around. One teacher in particular, whose first name was Dolly, (I do not remember her surname) was so affected by our shenanigans, that she eventually had to split us up during her class. On one occasion she also kept us back after class to lecture us on the attributes of proper behaviour in class, and that we had to feel shameful. We were so very shameful (for a while anyway) that the next day we gave her a box of guess what??
No, not chocolates or flowers but Dolly Mixtures. This brought a tear to her eye and all was forgiven and forgotten

I understand that neither Steve, nor his older brother, Sylvester, had second names. So someone,( God knows who), gave Steve a nickname CAITHO , based perhaps on his liking for the axe-like weapon, which in Konkani one would refer to as ‘Koitho’ !!  However,  Steve and I would often address each other differently – I would hail him as ‘Son of AP’ and he would respond with ‘Son of Tommy’  . My Dad’s  name was in fact Thome, which Steve evidently could not pronounce.

Talk of nicknames there were many bandied about in our school days – names like ‘ Putla, Kasaku, Goofy, and Mkamba- for the lads, and Crows Nest, Skoda Legs, Hockey Sticks, and Macho Eine for the gals. I would hazard a guess that it was Steve who invented these names for the individuals concerned - all in innocent fun of course. Such was his infectious sense of humour that it is not hard to believe that he belonged to a so-called   ‘Jokers Club’  Even his e-mail address was jokersteve @ hotmail .com

Steve, as you all know, was a great sportsman. Both he and I were members of the Dr Ribeiro Goan School Football team that included famous names like Gilbert Fernandes, Clive Ferrao, Alban Coutinho and Anthony D’Souza.  Steve, I believe played in defence; so not many could get past his beefy frame without incurring some bodily damage. Our
manager at the time was the popular teacher, Mr Roldao Menezes.

Being a tall strapping chap with a beady smile, Steve would have commanded a kind of aura and invincibility, especially in the presence of his many female admirers. One such admirer whose attention and eventual love he captured was a one-time model from a strict, respectable and sporting family. Her name, Marjorie Fernandes, whose brother, Alex, played for the Kenya Football team. Steve and Marjorie were married on 18th April 1970 – a sunny day I believe, but surely a sad
 Day for Steve’s other female admirers!!!

 My friends, lest I incur the wrath of Marjorie, I would now like to read out some comments from an account prepared by all the family, reflecting their heartfelt thoughts and memories of the many years of life with Steve, both in Kenya and here in the UK.

Our darling Steve was a dedicated family man who would go to great lengths to attend to the welfare of his wife, children, and more so of his grandchildren - Dylan, Nikita, Aaron and Leah- Gabriella,
(All of whom he absolutely adored).

-         He was very popular at Dr Ribeiro’ School, a keen athlete and captain of his school house St Patricks competing fiercely to win the annual inter-house Trophy. Just for the record, I was in the house of St David’s an equally formidable team I remember.

-         He was incredibly cheeky, and often got himself and his friends into trouble stealing fruit from neighbouring gardens, climbing up trees and throwing guavas to those below. He would often return home late  from his various activities,  only to face the music from his furious Mum, Maria, who sadly passed away following a road accident in 1966

-         Our wedding in 1970 was at the Holy Family Cathedral. The service was officiated by the late Fr Francis Comerford, who was the school principal at the time.

-         After graduating from Teacher Training College in Nairobi, Steve rose to great heights as Bwana Mwalimu at various schools, and later as a headmaster at Karen. At all these establishments he at gave his best and his outstanding talents were valued by teachers and parents alike. I wonder did he perhaps lecture his troublesome students on the importance of proper conduct in class!!!

-         After the family moved to the UK in 1991, Steve was to become well known and liked in the teaching community, particularly at
 St Stephen’s School, Welling, where he taught for many years.  His services were so sought after that even after he retired officially from teaching, he was called back to teach at a few local schools. No doubt he was glad to get away from household chores at the time!!

-         He loved football and was an ardent Manchester United fan always engaging in fun and banter with his son-in-law, Paul, who happened to be a Liverpool fan. He was passionate about darts too and was a member of the famed ‘Rebels Club’ in Nairobi.

-          Steve was extremely generous and donated to various charities

-         Some of the happiest moments of Steve’s life were when his daughter, Jennifer, married Paul and son, Clifford, married Meera. 
Those days must have been so special for the Fernandes clan!

-         He had an inherent love of music, in particular the music of the King (Elvis) -to whose hits he would often listen and sing along.
I often noticed that when in front of a mirror he would carefully comb his kiss-curl in an attempt to copy that of Elvis!! He also loved dancing, in particular the Jive, and would try to copy the steps of the maestro Rowland Rebello – unsuccessfully though!!

-         Steve loved talking about the ‘good old days’ - the various camping trips to Mombasa and Malindi, and the fishing trips with his buddies to Lake Naivasha’.  He loved  Nyama Choma, and Maindee, sprinkled with lemon and chilli powder, followed by a cold, refreshing Tusker beer.

-         Friendships played an important   part of Steve’s life and he would often telephone his closest friends like Skippy, Gilbert, Donald and Alvira, Edwin, William, Fatima and of course Yours Truly, all of whom apparently have now become Honorary Uncles and Aunts to his children. Falling in the same category will be Uncle Blasco Goes for his sterling help in organising today’s proceedings.

-         Our lasting memories of Steve will be his hard-working ethic and his will to soldier on (even when times were tough).  I would often speak to him in those days when he was ailing; and when I posed the question ‘How goes it son of AP? he would always retort with the answer ‘ not good my friend not good, what to do?
-a phrase that still echoes in my mind now and again.

-          I am given to understand that Steve and Marjorie sometimes dined out at two local restaurants and on each occasion, when Steve requested for the bill, he was informed that the bill had already been settled. Neither he nor Marjorie ever found out who paid those bills. This proves the point that he had friends in high places. However, thereafter Steve never went to those restaurants. It is my view that the money he saved on the aforementioned visits would have been invested in buying shares in Ladbrokes!!

Sorry folks - excuse me a moment. Must take this call!!!

Talk of the devil - that was His Lordship pleading with me to ‘get on with it!!! ‘Apparently I am keeping St Peter waiting to welcome Steve through the Pearly Gates. Can you imagine that – Steve at The Pearly Gates in such quick time? He probably avoided the Dartford Crossing and used the Bexleyheath Bypass instead!!

So people, time to bid farewell to the charismatic and enigmatic Steve, as he ascends upwards and onwards towards eternal rest and glory in God’s Heavenly Kingdom. There he will be re-united with his beloved parents, brother Leslie, as well as his former classmates, Frank Menezes, Anthony D’Silva, Mario Almeida, and Maximo Alphonso, to name but a few.


THE YOUNG CLAN: Pictured from left: Lloyd (late Uncle Leandro’s son), Lis (late Les’ daughter), Cliff, Kiran, Mel, Jennifer, Darren and James (Raul’s sons), Liam (late Les’ son),  Paul (Steve’s joker son-in-law), Meera is next to Lloyd.

Marjorie's brother Alex: Her "rock".

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pio Gama Pinto in the COMMUNIST REVIEW

If you would like to read this: click on the picture, open in a new tab each time!
Thank you for taking the trouble.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Denis Andrew: a priest on the "run"

DENIS ANDREW: Running with God, always!

The Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Wentworthville in Sydney’s West is blessed with priests who bring an array of qualities and personalities to the flock. Fr John is a true-blue Aussie storyteller with a smile in every sentence. Fr Scierrie is the wise old owl and a theologian of sorts (with a smile, of course). Fr Martinho is a young man who has only just started his journey in the priesthood… a very fun guy. And then there is Denis Andrew… the leader of the gang of four so to speak. He is the subject of this interview.

Denis Andrew and nephew Michael Zammit who raised $10,000 in the Dili Marathon
Picture: Catholic Outlook

Dili Marathon: It was 6am on Saturday 18 June. My nephew, Michael Zammit and I had gathered along with hundreds of others to run the Dili marathon, half-marathon or 7km fun run. The race began at 6.30am to try to avoid some of the heat of the day. During the second half of the race the temperature would climb to 30 degrees. But for the moment it was cool in the pre-dawn at a beautiful harbour-front starting location outside the Governor’s Palace. President Ramos Horta arrived to inspire us with a speech and to thank us for taking part in such an important event for Timor-Leste. Then he fired the starting gun and we were off.

The marathon was two laps of a 21.1km course. The first lap was rather exciting as we were surrounded by the half-marathon and 7km Fun Run participants. The local Timorese were fantastic in their support from the sidelines, as were our own Carmelite students. The second lap was quite another story. The runners in the shorter distances finished and we were left to experience the loneliness of the long-distance runner. The heat started to kick in. This was accentuated by the smog of the dry season and the smoke from the cooking fires of the locals along the course. Then there were the obstacles such as the river crossing (fortunately it was the dry season and the water was low) and the odd dog and pig straying across the path but also the police let a lot of motorbikes and cars on the course in the second lap. And that’s saying nothing about our aching legs. Still the locals were highly excited, especially the children. They constantly ran with us wanting to do ‘high fives’. And one group brought my nephew Michael into their soccer game as he passed.

At long last, the harbour approached. A left turn and another kilometre along the waterfront and the finishing line was the most pleasing of sights. It was a slow race. Michael and I were both over 4 hours. But as always with the marathon, it was most pleasing to finish and a great sense of achievement. The Carmelites steered us to a seat in the shade and poured cold water down us. We spent the next couple of days recovering in our novitiate and student community at Hera. Michael is an optometrist by profession. He had generously brought his equipment with him. He set about testing the eyes of around 60 of our Carmelite priests, brothers and students along with the cooks, drivers and all the workers associated with us.

We both feel the trip was a great success. We would like to thank all who supported us both financially and in spirit. The whole venture has raised some $10,000 in support of the Carmelite mission in Timor-Leste.

Denis Andrew on a walk in Loch Lomond, Scotland

Denis Andrew was born in Melbourne, Vic. Some of his earliest memories, as a very young boy, include living with his grandmother at 22 Silver Street, Malvern. He will never forget sitting on his father’s knee or visiting him in hospital. Both memories are when he was around two to two and half years old. His father passed away when he was pretty young.

His siblings are Michael, Margaret, Catherine, Elizabeth (RIP) and Josephine.
His first day at school was probably February 1954 at St John’s, Mitcham.

Andrew is a quiet, gentle,  man. One with an economy of words and like his homilies he gets his point across without having to beat his breasts or thump the rostrum. He is also very contemplative and easy to talk to.

We share a mutual interest in running and walking: me as a former sports reporter, he as someone who has been running marathons, middle and long distance running and some of the longest and challenging walks around.

Here’s are his thoughts in his own words:

Love of running
I was always a good runner but at secondary school there were school athletics carnivals and some inter-school with a bit of success. Then Br Roberton CFC got a few of us to join Box Hill harriers and I competed as a junior.

It was probably only after I had joined the Carmelites and in 1973 I joined Box Hill Athletic club again and loved the competition and the training and came to experience running as a positive addiction. The competition at all levels was fierce enough. I made good friends with some of the Box Hill distance runners. We socialised together, especially after competition. It was a great outlet from the ‘hothouse’ of the seminary.

The popularity of distance running peaked in Melbourne during the 1970s. This was due to a number of factors: success of Rob De Castella; Frank Shorter (USA) winning 1972 Olympic marathon in Munich (CF: I was there and became the first journalist the world to interview athletes trackside. Frank Shorter told me “he hit a wall” but somehow got to the finish.) and repeating it in 1976 in Montreal; the inaugural Melbourne Marathon which attracted 7000 entrants by the late 70’s, Filbert Bayi’s 1500m world record at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games in 1974 etc.

Inter-club athletics in Melbourne competition peaked in the 70’s. In the summer, track competition was held at about six tracks around Melbourne including at Box Hill. Box Hill was a very strong club and won the A grade premiership for about 12 years in a row. There were teams of three in each event for each grade. For instance, Box Hill had about seven 1500 metre teams across four grades which means you needed to be able to run about 4 min 12 sec just to get a run in C grade. We had a number of Olympic representatives.

Ditto the Winter cross country/road season. There were many events but there were seven major races open to the whole state and very competitive. Three cross countries: 8km, 12 km and 16km. Three road races: 10km, 15 km and 25km. The cross countries along with the 10km and 15km attracted fields of up to 700 runners. Then there was the State marathon championship. There was a Winter championship. For instance, the first six runners home for Box Hill comprised the A grade team, the next six  home were the B grade team etc.

So plenty of memorable races:
06.08.77 the 16km Cross country Sunbury: 32nd out of 620 entrants in 58min 5sec (a tough tough hilly muddy course in grounds of Salesian College agricultural college)

Big M Melbourne Marathon 12.10.1980: 45th in 2 hours 38 min

18.12.79 Track at Olympic Park: Emil Zatopek B Grade 10,000 metres: 6th in 31 min 38 sec.

17.03.79Track Interclub B grade grand final at Olympic Park 3000 metres steeplechase 9th in 9 min 48 sec.
24.03.79 Track at Olympic Park 5000 metres: 15min 14 sec.

Victorian Marathon Club at Princes Park (road) 10 miles: 2nd in 54 min 43 sec.

VAAA 25km Road championship Lara: 28th out of 400 in 88 min 2 sec

23.06.79 VAAA Victorian Marathon Championship Point Cook: 25th in 2 hr 37 min.

Runners who inspired me
Ron Clarke – blazed new frontiers in distance running. His 27min 39 sec world record at Oslo on 14 July 1965 was incredible and broke the previous record by nearly 40 seconds. I remember Peter Snell saying at the time that you would have to be a distance runner to realise how good that run was. Ron was inexperienced at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and ran quite a slow time for third I think in the 10,000 metres. In 1968 he had no hope with the altitude at the Mexico Olympics. Ron mostly ran on the old cinder tracks which makes his accomplishments even greater – the new style tartan tracks have to be worth a second or two a lap.

Lasse Viren was a great runner with memorable feats at 1972 Olympics but always had the blood doping question mark about him. I saw him run in Melbourne, but he was past his prime.

Gordon Pirie (GB)  was an English long-distance runner. He competed in the 5000 m and 10,000 m events at the 1952, 1956 and 1960 Olympics and won a silver medal in the 5000 metres in 1956, placing fourth in 1952. Born in Leeds, Pirie grew up in Coulsdon, Surrey, and ran for the South London Harriers.

Herb Elliott : Many Olympic athletes have won more gold medals than Herb Elliott. But few people have ever exercised such absolute authority in any branch of sport as Elliott did in middle-distance running. In 42 races from 1957 to 1961, he was never beaten over 1500 metres or a mile. Testimony to his greatness is the fact that, although he won the Olympic 1500m in 1960, his winning time then would have still been good enough to win gold medals in Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996).    
Peter Snell (when I read his autobiography I realised he often did not feel at his best in some of his 800metre/1500 metre races but he gritted it out and fought to the finish and won).

Brendan Foster (GB) British former long-distance runner who founded the Great North Run. He won the bronze medal in the 10,000 metres at the 1976 Summer Olympics, and the gold medal in the 5,000 metres at the 1974 European Championships and the 10,000 metres at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

Murray Halberg (NZ) handicapped with a withered arm and won 5000m in Rome Olympics 1960.

Kip Keino (not really a fan but an admirer but saw him run in Melbourne and beat Ron Clarke).

Henry Rono a great distance runner. I saw him break the Australian 10,000-metre record at Olympic Park in Melbourne in an incredible time of about 27 min 30 sec, but  I think he was sadly troubled with alcoholism later in his career.

Mo Farrah, the best surely. I saw him run 5000 metres on the Olympic Games track in London in2016.

I got my first taste of wilderness walking on a 3 day walk around Wilson’s Promontory National Park in Victoria when I was a seminarian in about 1974. I loved it. The camping, the views, the bush. I did a number of camping trips with my family. But I fell on my feet when I arrived at Park Orchards-Warrandyte parish in Melbourne on 15 August 1998. There was a group of about 6 men who were into some serious walking and I climbed aboard:

Walls of Jerusalem/Overland Track Tasmania.

Croajingolong National Park in South East Victoria.

Mt Jugungal region in Snowy Mountains.

Victorian Alps.

Grampians Victoria.

Airey’s Inlet Victoria.

Wilson’s Promontory a few times.
Great Ocean Road walk in Victoria.

Coast to Coast walk in UK

Offa’s Dyke walk in UK

Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Some of the walks were quite demanding and challenging. It taught me a lot about being a male and making decisions in the wild respecting the weakest member of the group.

Since then I have done others:

Great South West coast walk in south-west Victoria, Portland - Nelson.
South West Coast Path in England by myself.

(Denis is still competitive and can be seen in action at the athletics track in Blacktown, Western Sydney.)

I have no particular favourite but the remote ones I am particularly grateful for as I could never do them by myself in the Australian wilderness. You inevitably find yourself unsure of where you are and you need good map reading skills to be able to find your way, something I do not have. But camping in your tent and having a meal surrounded by the glorious bush settings in the remote Australian bush is just a wonderful experience.

How did God win against athletics?

It is definitely not an either/or. Both are aspects of my life. In the 70’s while a student at Whitefriars Monastery at Donvale Victoria, athletics was an outlet, a sport. I loved the camaraderie of the distance running fraternity at Box Hill Athletic club, I loved the competition. After Ordination I have managed to keep competing in Sydney and Brisbane while stationed there. A side benefit of the distance running competition is the fitness. Ministry in a parish can be quite demanding and I have always felt that the fitness and health that training brings has helped cope with both the physical and mental demands of ministry.

I grew up in Melbourne and joined the Carmelites in 1972. Ironically I was educated by the Christian Brothers at Aquinas College Ringwood which was a ‘rival’ school to Whitefriars. I have often mused as to whether I would have joined the Carmelites had I gone to Whitefriars!

Many of you will recall the church of the seventies. It had a renewed vision following Vatican II. Seminary numbers were at their peak in the Western world. Priesthood was still a very mainstream life choice. Yarra Theological Union in Box Hill had recently been established. Seminary life was also changing. They were no longer enclosed self-sufficient worlds. They were open to society and vice versa.

After Ordination in 1980 my first appointment was to Wentworthville, our Carmelite parish in Sydney. Basically, I spent the next 30 years in Carmelite parish ministry around Australia. So it was a bit of a shock to the system to find myself being invited to take up the quite different role of Provincial following our Provincial Chapter at the end of April.

Carmelite life, along with the Church, society and indeed the world has changed considerably over the past 30 years. Australia has become very multi-cultural. Cultural diversity has brought religious diversity. We live in an increasingly secular and pluralistic society. Church attendance in the Western world has declined. It is not surprising that the church has reacted against these forces by becoming much more conservative, demanding conformity to a central doctrine.

At the same time faith, religion, the church and vocations seem to be flourishing in the developing world.  We Carmelites in Australia experience ourselves as ageing and diminishing in numbers. Our Carmelite life is increasingly shared with lay people connected to us interested in the Carmelite charism. We have been blessed by Carmelites in Timor becoming members of our Province. This has brought new life and energy. Many other Religious Orders and communities have similar links with members across Asia and Oceania. Our Province works ever more closely with Carmelites in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and India.

Despite 30 years of change religion remains an important force in Australia and the world, even if in quite different ways. All of this makes for an interesting mix and a challenge for any Provincial and Council to guide the Province in these times.

Path to priesthood
When you join a Religious Order in the first instance you are joining the Order and not necessarily joining to be a priest. With the Carmelites, you can be a Brother or a Priest, and this would be the case with many of the Religious Orders of men.

Joining an Order is a gradual process. Typically you might spend a year as a postulant which might involve some ministry, study, living in the community. This would usually be followed by a year as a Novice. A year where you study the charism of the Order. At the end of this, you would normally take first vows, which could be for 1 year or 3 years. After some years in temporary vows, you might be invited to make application for Solemn profession which is lifetime vows and commitment to the Order. The whole process is designed to help the candidate sense whether this is the right place for him, and to help those entrusted with Formation in the Order to look at the student over the years and discern whether he is right for the Order. Along the way if you were preparing for priesthood you would study, usually for a Bachelor of Theology which for Carmelites would be at the University of Divinity, and over time receive the ministries or reader, acolyte, deacon and then priesthood.

Your own journey, observations as a Carmelite?
Religious life is no different to life in the wider world: change. The Order I joined in 1972 is not the Order as it is today. The church I was a member of when I joined in 1972 is not the church of today. (For example in 1972 to join the priesthood and/or Religious life was still a mainstream thing to do. It is certainly not today). The world I grew up in during the 1950s and 1960s is not the world I live in today. Life continually evolves and changes. I have had three periods of working in Wentworthville parish: February 1981 to February 1986, January 2004 to May 2010, and December 2016 to …….
The parish I came to in 1981 was a very different experience to the parish I came to in 2004 and in 2010. In the 80’s it was a very Maltese area with parishioners typically being White Australian with an Anglo or European ancestry. Now Wentworthville is an Indian area with other parishioners being largely from Asia.

The world has shrunk. With the development of media, communications we are all aware of what is happening in other parts of the world. Carmelite life has become much more global. We are no longer the isolated Australian Province. We are the Province of Australia and Timor Leste and we attend many international meetings of Carmelites and there is much more interaction and help between the Provinces in our region and in our world.

The Carmelites are having to train their own priests… in East Timor for example? Does this signal the end of the Australian bred priests, who are a vanishing breed?
Yes and no. This is an ambiguous question in many ways. Priesthood and Religious Life has experienced a general decline in numbers in Western countries. At the same time, there has been a rapid increase in numbers in other Carmelite Provinces around the world such as Asia, Africa and South America. In our region, this would include the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. Indonesia is our biggest Province with nearly 300 members. In Australia, most of the Religious Orders have experienced a decline in Australian vocations and experienced new life and growth by being involved with members of their Order in other countries in our region. The Australian Province incorporated the Carmelites of East Timor into our Province in 2000 after the county voted for independence from Indonesia and the war and destruction that followed this. But Australia is surely the most multi-cultural country in the world, so how do you define “Australian bred priests, who are a vanishing breed”? If most of our priests now seem to come from overseas so does the person who runs the Post Office, who runs the bank, who drives the trains etc.

You have a couple of decades to go yet, but what do you look forward to in retirement? When do you plan to hang up those walking shoes? You still jog a little at the moment?
This is a vexed question. All my friends I went to school with are retired and living quite full lives. As indeed are friends from the parish here. With the shortage of priests there tends to be pressure for you to keep working, especially if you are reasonably healthy and reasonably sane. The issue becomes complicated. The position of parish priest has become much more onerous. With various regulatory bodies across Carmelites, the Diocese, the Church, State and Federal Governments life has become much more transparent and accountable and the red-tape has multiplied. Now, this is rightly so following developments such as the Royal Commission into sexual abuse of minors by Institutions and various other developments like what the ‘Me too’ movement has revealed. You have to be thorough in providing a safe working environment.

Many of us want to keep active in ministry, and Anthony Scerri at 88 years of age is a shining example in Wentworthville parish. He makes a valuable contribution. Many of us as we become older want to be active and continue doing ministry in the church eg. Masses, funerals, weddings etc. but we do not want to be burdened by the responsibility of finance, maintenance, compliance etc.

And again you need your health to be able to do this as you find yourself in the ’70s and ’80s. So I have no plan to hand up my walking shoes. I am still competing in distance events during the winter season and I run about 5 days a week at 5am for an hour.


  This invaluable collection of photos was sent to me by David Mungai. He says it is “for the acknowledgement of Kenyan History, the celebra...