How can it be so? Let me tell you.
My father’s sister held a position of authority within the Mercy Order of Catholic nuns in Ballarat. She was Mother Augustine in the Ballarat head- quarters of the Order. In addition to having several Convents within regional Victoria the nuns also conducted a boy’s primary boarding school/home called Villa Maria in the countryside just outside of Ballarat East. Although it has never been confirmed to me, I believe Mother Augustine exercised her significant influence to provide me with accommodation and tutorial for a period of eight years, (my primary schooling), at little or no cost.
Although I did not appreciate it at the time, this was a great blessing. I was unappreciative because, due to my experiences, I believed then, and now, that nuns are of a differing breed. I found them to be not loving people and to be very strict and severe. I hated every day at Villa and used to refer to it as jail. Nevertheless, the nuns carried out their duties and provided the kids with a home and a good education. This, to me, had to be a blessing.
In 1945 another of dad’s sisters provided me with the opportunity to win a scholarship which again provided me with accommodation and secondary education for four years at the more friendly environment of St. Patrick’s College, also in Ballarat. Another blessing!
On completion of my education, Dad’s brother obtained for me a job which I held for seventeen years with Victorian Producers Co-Op (VPC). In my later years with VPC I had occasion to visit a neurologist in Wagga Wagga who counselled me to “study accountancy and work for yourself”. Accordingly, I commenced study by correspondence, and, after a grinding six years, I graduated as a member of the Australian Society of Accountants. Then, after another stint of correspondence schooling I graduated and obtained a fellowship in the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
I then became a partner in the accounting practice of Smith O’Shannessy, and so commenced a satisfying and rewarding career. Surely, a blessing.
I met and befriended Norm Matthews who invited me to invest in and become the Secretary of a property development group. Over a period of thirty years we developed and marketed one hundred and fifty home building blocks. This proved to be a very rewarding venture.
Over a period of some sixty years I played and enjoyed lawn bowls. I was a member of the Benalla Bowls Club and participated in more than seven hundred games of pennant bowls. I was in a number of winning premiership teams.
I also became an active Rotarian for thirty-five satisfying years and am a Paul Harris Fellow.
In 1967 I married the love of my life, Bernadette Cooke. We have four wonderful children who all graduated at University and have distinguished careers. There are also ten adoring grandchildren. How blessed we are.
In the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2013, I was presented with an Order of Australia Medal. OAM.
All in all, I can boast that I have lived a blessed life.
8 October 2020