THE APOSTLE OF THE GOILALA STUDENTS PASSES
Bro Brendan Crowe FSC
17.8.1942 - 10.6.2014
By Fr Roger Purcell MSC
Bro Brendan Crowe (de La Salle) died on 10th June in Melbourne, Australia. He spent many years in Papua New Guinea and leaves behind a great legacy of work, achievements and most importantly, friends. One of his confreres said, “his loyalty, commitment, generosity, set purpose and dare we say devotion, could well be an allegory for his life both professional and religious.” He was a true Aussie who enjoyed his football (North Melbourne), a beer with friends and stories. He was a religious of dedication and a man with a vision of what could be done, and great energy and determination to get it done.
He came first in 1972 to Maino Hana High School in Bereina Diocese becoming involved in SSCEP (Secondary Schools Community Extension Programme) bringing that dedication and commitment to all he did. When I first knew him he was at Tapini High School, which he was instrumental in establishing. His many trips on the Louis Mona Highway (Tapini Highway) were the stuff of legends and the mechanics at PNG Motors often worked overtime on his Mazda to keep it on the road.
Previously the Goilala students used to go to Maino Hana High School, and Brendan would often walk back with them in the Christmas holidays and visit the villages; hence his great interest and commitment to Goilala. On these walks he said that in crossing the high passes he always put himself at the end of the line and did not allow anyone to stop in the cold and mist of the pass, but to go further down, find shelter and light a fire to warm up. Many have died of cold in those passes.
He spent years in Goilala establishing many small community schools, finding teachers, getting them to the schools and chasing them through the settlements in Port Moresby to ensure they were in their schools. He was so well known he could go freely into any settlement in the city to find teachers, students and parents. He pestered Members and Public Servants to get funds for the schools, and turned to the Embassies to establish a radio system in the schools.
From the Tapini Canteen the brothers ran a system of supply to the remote teachers. They would pay their salary into the canteen account, send their orders by radio and the Brothers would send their goods by plane and debit their accounts. Brendan’s policy was that if the teacher was in the school the kids were being taught. He patrolled regularly to these schools in very difficult terrain, found materials to build and organized Rotary Australia to came and build them, often in very remote location. Following many others before him, he was a real apostle to the Goilala bringing the benefits of education to many remote villages.
With these schools feeding the High School and his care for the teachers the aggregate mark at Tapini High School climbed steadily to be one of the best in the nation.
Later when his health declined he moved to Trinity Teachers College in Mt. Hagen with a better climate. Here he accepted to be the primary writer of the PNG Catechism, working closely with the Catechism Committee under LCI. Much of his work was really very good requiring a lot of study and thought; there were days too when it was not so good and the Committee had to rework the chapters or start again.
In all of these works, over many years, he has contributed greatly to the development of the nation and the church leaving behind many great friends, endless memories and stories and a fine legacy of achievement.