Where are they now – Br Kevin Buckley
October 27, 2020
The College recently reconnected with Br Kevin Buckley, who was Principal of St Patrick’s College between 1989-91. Br Buckley shares many memories of his time at SPC and where life took him after leaving St Patrick’s.
Did you have any connections with St Patrick’s College before your arrival as Principal in 1989?
My only direct connections with the College before 1989 were occasional visits as a Christian Brother or for a meeting or public function. But I did have a family history of connection with Ballarat. My grandfather migrated from Ireland in 1870 as a young man, settled in Ballarat, married and raised his family there – and was driver of the horse-drawn Sebastopol tram. Dad was born in Ballarat and was a pupil at the first-established school of the Christian Brothers in Ballarat (Skipton Street) before the family moved to Melbourne in 1912. So I did have some sense of “belonging” as I arrived at St Patrick’s College.
What are your fondest memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
I recall with fondness the identification that the students proudly held and proclaimed, of “being a St Pat’s boy”. I recall often meeting past students of all ages as they returned with family members and walked the corridors, finding and pointing out a class or team photo of themselves and their mates and recalling their life at the College in earlier times. And how could I not remember Boat Race Day – especially in 1990, my second year at the College, when we won the Head of the Lake for the first time in 29 years!
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
Following my service at St Patrick’s College, I was Principal at St Joseph’s College North Melbourne until 2000. I then engaged in a one-year international program of Christian Brothers outreach, firstly in Namibia, and then in Florida (the latter with mainly Mexican itinerant immigrants, many of whom were “undocumented”). On return to Australia I served initially with Catholic Education Office Ballarat on a School Review Process, and then for four years as a member of the Pastoral Care Team of Melbourne CEO. In 2004 I was appointed Executive Officer for the Christian Brothers Education Commission (Victoria and Tasmania). When the Brothers transferred responsibility for their schools to Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) in 2007, I became EREA Regional Coordinator for Victoria and Tasmania. In 2009 I was appointed Executive Officer for the EREA Governing Council and served in that role until my retirement in April of this year. I am now enjoying a somewhat more relaxed lifestyle of Christian Brothers’ life, in suburban Melbourne.
Which staff members from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
I pay tribute to Br Denis Moore, who was Deputy Principal and in many ways “ran” the practical day-to-day life of the College. Denis was also Residential Coordinator (Boarding), supervised a Year 12 Boarding House, had a significant teaching component, and was a leader in the College Cadets. How he managed all this is quite overwhelming!
I was also wonderfully supported by my Secretary Mrs Eileen Sharp. Day by day, Eileen laboured tirelessly, assisting me in so many aspects of communication and organisation, sorting out appointments, ensuring I was in touch with a variety of aspects of College life, and keeping me calm in a crisis!
What do you think the boys would remember most about you?
It’s a reality of school life that a Principal is often attending to activities that are not directly engaged with, or seen by, the students. But one thing that many students would, I think, remember is my conducting, with great enthusiasm and energy, of the senior choirs at Speech Night – and the rousing performances of songs that together we gave in those years, from such shows as Les Miserables, Chess, Big River, Showboat and Godspell.
Where was your favourite place in the college?
I had a number of favourite places – the front garden, with its attractive view to our College for all who passed by; the College Oval with its great sporting events; the Staff Room, where I could inter-relate with the wide variety of staff members; and the Brothers’ community room, where I could relax in the evening with my fellow Brothers.
What was your favourite college event?
There were so many great events – but here I would highlight Speech Night, as a gathering of the College community – students, staff, families, friends, guests – and as a high-point of the school year, affirming and sharing so many aspects of College life in a public setting.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
Young men of St Patrick’s College, I encourage each one of you to make the most of the opportunities you have at the College to learn well, to relate well with others, to develop your own abilities and skills, and to look for ways to use these gifts for the good of others both now and into the future.