Br Ray O'Donoghue

Written on the 16 April 2018 by Old Collegians Association

Br Ray O'Donoghue

Excerpt from 2003 Rostrevor Magazine

Br Ray O'Donoghue was a recent visitor to Rostrevor to re-acquaint with a place he called home for four years. Red & Black is very grateful to Br O'Donoghue for making the time to put together this account of his connection with Rostrevor and his life in the service of God and Edmund Ignatius Rice.

Raymond O'Donoghue's first school was the Largs Bay Orphanage in 1931. This came about because his mother died when he was six and being one of six children (5 boys and a girl), his father accepted the offer from the nuns to care for the children for a short while. Ray's strong memories of this era are of a father who raised 6 children in the middle of the Depression and who did so with the utmost commitment and care. In 1935 Ray attended CBC Wakefield St and in 1940 he answered his vocational call and entered the Christian Brother novitiate in Strathfield, Sydney.

In I944 he taught at Lewisham in Sydney and was then transferred to Mackay, as a 22-year-old, to teach 85 Grade 2,3 and 4 students.

In 1949 he went to Townsville and then in 1951 he began work at Rostrevor under Br Mogg. In these years boarding began to grow as families re-established themselves after the War. In his first year at Rostrevor and for each subsequent year, Ray was Boarding House Master to Year 9, he was also the 1st Year teacher to 70 boys in what was known as the Coach House classroom which was a shed in the vicinity of where the Junior School is today, He also was given sole responsibility for the Cadet Corps as a Lieutenant and then as a Captain. In addition, he was the editor of the Annual, coach of the Under 14 football and cricket teams and Choirmaster.  All at the age of 25 and with just 6 months teacher training.

Other brothers at Rostrevor during this era included: Bros. Carroll, Gurr, Kerwick, McCarthy, Forrest, O'Connor, O'Sullivan, McMahon, Greening, Howard, Cusack, Gifford, Bourke and Whiting. A great help to Br O'Donoghue as OC of the Cadets in organizing events was a Sergeant Dick Whittington who was an Army Instructor attached to Rostrevor through the 4th Cadet Brigade. Of course, Dick was to join the Rostrevor staff as a teacher in 1964.

From the 1953 Annual: The Rostrevor Choir conducted by Br O'Donoghue.

In 1955 Ray went to CBC Wakefield St for a period of eight years and in 1963 he was appointed the founding Head of St John's Whyalla.  In those days it was a diocesan school funded by the diocese but run by the Christian Brothers. Subsequent Headmasters of St John's included Br Mark McCabe, Br Pat Cronin and Br Rob Callen. As Head at Whyalla Br O'Donoghue became acquainted with future Rostrevor graduates through the Ryan and Deegan families to name a few.

In its early years Br O'Donoghue is proud to reflect that St John's fees were £5 (pounds) per Term and were identified as the lowest of their kind in Australia.

In 1969 Ray went to Kalgoorlie for a year and then was appointed head of Leederville in Perth, In 1973 he went to Geraldton and then to Fremantle, Highgate and Collie where he was Headmaster at 60 years of age.

Not yet ready for retirement and still feeling he had something to offer, Ray undertook a Librarian's Course thinking he could engage more closely with his love of reading. On completion of the course he went to Kununurra for 5 years and undertook responsibility for a project to install computers as learning tools in Aboriginal communities. Also helping him in this work around that time were Br Des Howard, Br Brian McHugh and Br Laurie Negus. Br Fitzharding took over the project when Ray moved to the Brother's community in Kalgoorlie in 1991.

In 1993 Br O'Donoghue answered a call to teach English in China at Urumqi in Kazakhstan where the winters are 30 degrees below zero and the summers are extremely hot!
He continues to work in China today. His recent return to Australia was prompted by the SARS scare but since h1, has returned to work in Shanghai.
He teaches English to tertiary students a11d is accommodated by the University.

Ray is aware of the imminent departure for China of old scholar priest Fr Roderick O'Brien. Fr O'Brien has most recently been assistant at St Augustine's, Salisbury and will spend 2 years in China teaching English. Fr O'Brien graduated from Rostrevor as a boarder from Whyalla in 1965 and attended Adelaide University gaining his Law Degree. He taught Law in Hong Kong before becoming a priest and working in the Adelaide Archdiocese.

When visiting Rostrevor earlier this year Br O' Donoghue could not resist sharing a little of his love of music with Mr. Degenhart's Year 8 Music Class.

Another identity from Br O'Donoghue's years at Rostrevor is Dr Charles Duguid. Dr Duguid was the doctor to the Boarding School in the 1950s and Ray is aware of Dr Duguid's great contribution to the welfare of Aboriginal people in S.A. from as early as 1935. Dr Duguid's good work in this area is mentioned in Christabel Mattingley's "Survival in our own Land".

The ROCA wishes Br O"Donoghue well in his work in China and pays tribute to his wonderful contribution to Rostrevor College during his tenure here. (Br) 'Peanuts' O'Donoghue!
Palma Merenti.


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Author:Old Collegians Association


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