Where are they now - Gerard Bourke (former staff)
author: Lorrie Liston
The College reconnects with former staff member Gerard Bourke, who taught at SPC between 1992-2002. He was Deputy Principal for the first eight years, Director of Boarding for two years and Curriculum Co-ordinator for the last year.
Please tell us about your life and time working at St Patrick’s College?
I started my career as a Christian Brother. I left CBC Warrnambool after Year 10 to do Year 11 and 12 at the Juniorate in Bundoora. After my Novitiate at Lower Plenty in 1972, I did two more years of training, one at Parkville and one at Box Hill. I also started an Arts Degree at Melbourne University.
My first posting was for two years at St Virgil’s College at Austin’s Ferry in Hobart. I taught mostly Religion and Humanities, PE and Art. I was then transferred to St Joseph’s Technical School, Abbotsford.
Approaching final vows in 1978 I left the Brothers and taught with the Marists for three years at Immaculate Heart College in Preston. Then I returned to my home area and taught for 10 years at Catholic Regional College (now known as Mercy Regional College). I fell in love, got married and had two children in Camperdown. I also rose through the ranks to be Deputy Principal and for six months, Acting Principal.
At St Patrick’s I was appointed as Deputy Principal halfway through 1991 for the following year. This was during the Principalship of Br Kevin Buckley. Before the year was out, however, Br Buckley went to CBC North Melbourne and Br Laurie Collins and I began together in 1992. Br Dennis Moore had been the previous Deputy and was also in charge of Boarding. I took over the Deputy role and Mr Brian Broadribb became Boarding Director.
My years as Deputy were pretty much focused on discipline and I became known as the one with the big voice and the Saturday Detentions. I stamped out the smoking on the oval by students lying in a circle and able to see in all directions. I set up a video camera in the stairwell and videoed those smoking. I simply issued Saturday Detentions to specific individuals. They didn’t know how I could identify them but they stopped the practice.
I also reduced the amount of physical interaction of the 900 boys by introducing and enforcing the “hands off” rule.
Boatrace was a challenging time. We marched the students from school to the lake and supervised them on the “Spit” during the day. One unsuccessful attempt to reduce unsafe behaviour was to encourage the “Huddles are for losers” chant. It started okay but the students liked the huddled jumping. They also ignored the direction about entering the water when joy overtook them at a Paddy’s win and lots of retribution took place after the race.
After eight years I didn’t want to be Deputy any more so I took on the role of Boarding once the College Board had decided to close it down. I had a lighter load because of the amount of supervision I did which freed me up to complete my MA in Theology.
On the strength of this I was appointed as REC at Monivae College in 2003. I spent 14 happy years there and both of my children, Michelle and Liam, completed their studies there.
In my later years I have been spending some time each year in India teaching English in the minor seminary there. The MSC, who run Monivae, have many young men wanting to become priests and I visit there for a couple of months at every opportunity.
I am also a dedicated Officer of Army Cadets. Monivae has a compulsory Year 9 and 10 program and I have been involved since my earliest time there. I resigned from Monivae earlier this year (2017) and have called myself retired in Warrnambool for five months. However, at present I am filling in for a maternity leave placement until the end of the year. Then my wife and daughter and I will go to Cambodia to visit my son who is the manager of the Backpackers Hostel in Siem Reap.
Very recently I have started the new Army Cadet unit in Warrnambool. As you may gather, I enjoy the interaction with young people and the impact such a program has on their lives.
Best wishes to all those at St Pat’s. Paddy, Paddy, Paddy. Oy, Oy, Oy.