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Mighty innings from Br Roger

Diamond days: Br Roger Burke with seminarians from Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary.

Diamond days: Br Roger Burke with seminarians from Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary.

SCORING a century in Sydney grade cricket proved less admirable than entering a religious order for one of Brisbane’s Marist brothers.

Br Roger Burke, was a skilled Queensland cricketer, when he left Marist College, Ashgrove, at 19 to spend a lifetime doing “something for God”.

In 1954, the now 79 year old left Ashgrove “tearfully” for NSW’s southern highlands, where he took on the life as a Marist Brother teaching in schools between Cairns and Canberra.

Last month the retired teacher celebrated 60 years since deciding to enter the Brothers.

Br Burke said the highlight of his religious vocation was his time on “the forefront of trying to bring the Gospel to students”.

“I’ve been given golden opportunities everyday to treat students, their parents and staff in a Christ-like way,” Br Burke said.

“I thought I’ve always been doing God’s work, particularly in making schools a Christian environment.”

Despite entering the Brothers immediately after high school, Br Burke received an Arts degree from the University of New England and a diploma of education from Sturt College, Bathurst.

His love of teaching grew as he received placements in Maitland, Campbelltown, Ayr, Kogarah, Lismore, Cairns, Pearce, Randwick, Gladstone, Hamilton, Solomon Islands, and, in later years, to Ashgrove’s Marist community.

Last month Br Burke joined friends and parishioners for a thanksgiving Mass at St Brigid’s Church, Red Hill, where the Marist Brother teaches adult faith education, to mark his diamond jubilee.

Jubilee parish priest Fr Peter Brannelly, who works closely with Br Burke, said the diamond jubilarian had “constant faith” and was committed to “wherever he was assigned”.

“Drawing back from the classroom Br Roger redirected his energies into adult faith development, co-ordinating the many activities of the Jubilee parish as well as mentoring the seminarians at Holy Spirit Seminary Banyo in Latin,” he said.

Br Burke said he was interested in the new evangelisation and how to “present the same message (of the gospel) but in new and exciting ways”.

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