An Old Collegian’s lifetime dedication to human rights

December 2, 2019

The College had the pleasure of welcoming back Old Collegian Pat Walsh (SPC 1953-54, PY1958) on Friday November 22.

Pat Walsh finds himself in the 1954 College photo during his recent visit to St Patrick’s College.

The visit of the College co-incided with Pat’s visit to Ballarat to launch his latest book focussing on his long association with East Timor as a human rights advocate.

The book “The Day Hope and History Rhymed in East Timor and other East Timor stories” focuses on Pat’s memories of East Timor’s Referendum for Independence in 1999 and their continuing efforts for nationhood 20 years on.

The book was launched at the Ballarat Library, and Pat was also guest speaker at a special “Timor-Leste 20 Years On” dinner in Ballarat, hosted by the Ballarat Friends of Ainaro Community committee and Ballarat Ryder-Cheshire.

Now living in Melbourne with his wife Annie Keogh and three daughters, Pat has spent much of his life as a human rights advocate and author with special interests in Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

Originally from South Purrumbete near Camperdown, Pat reminisced during his visit about his time at SPC, completing First and Second Years in 1953 and 1954 as a day student.

Pat Walsh as a student at SPC in 1954.

He remembered good times unofficially boarding with his cousin Bill Walsh (SPC 1953-58) and his family at Cape Clear to alleviate the need for extra travelling or having to board at school.

Pat and Bill caught the daily bus to school together, which he remembered as an enormous amount of travel and sadly precluded him from any extra-curricular sporting endeavours in town.

His brother John (SPC) was a boarder at the same time and after Pat shared his experience of returning to St Patrick’s recently for a visit, Pat said “it sparked his (John’s) memories and a number of stories, including playing cricket and footie on the hill, the ‘grace’ the boys used to say before meals, and taking bread from the dining room to toast at the boiler!”

On a sadder note, Pat returned to Ballarat earlier this year for his cousin Bill’s funeral and gave the eulogy at the service.

Pat enjoyed the recent opportunity to walk around the school and visit the College Chapel, which was a brand new building in his school days.

He also gifted a copy of his new book to the College’s Library during his visit, along with one of his earlier books.

Pat Walsh gifts his latest books to the College Library.

Pat joined the priesthood as a Priest of the Sacred Heart and dedicated many years of service until leaving in 1990. His life’s passion has primarily been involved in promoting self-determination for East Timor for nearly three decades and he was part of Australia’s official delegation, led by Tim Fischer, to witness the historic ballot of August 30, 1999.

Supported by the UN, Pat was special advisor to East Timor’s truth and reconciliation commission and edited the English edition of the commission’s report Chega.

Both Timor-Leste and Australia have honoured his contribution to human rights and reconciliation in the region.

While launching his latest book, Pat is also the author of “At The Scene of the Crime” (2011) and “Stormy With a Chance of Fried Rice: 12 Months in Jakarta” (2015).

We thank Pat for reconnecting with the College during his recent visit. To follow more of Pat’s life story, please click here


Pat Walsh in Second Year Blue in 1954.