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Monday, 15 December 2014 11:30

Lasallians welcome new leader

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Br David Hawke fscThe new leader of the De La Salle Brothers, Brother David Hawke fsc, looks forward to building upon what is already in place as the work of the District expands to include Pakistan.

Until recently, Br David Hawke was based in Singapore where he oversaw the Lasallian mission across the Pacific Asia region.

“I finished on the General Council in April this year and at that stage my future ministry back in the District was still undetermined. I honestly didn’t know what was in store for me, but I suppose things happen for a reason because soon after I returned to Australia, the Brothers nominated me for the position of Visitor and I was appointed by Br Robert Schieler, Superior General,” Br David said.

Br David was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1950. The son of a Kiwi Mother and an Australian Dad who worked as an accountant, David, along with his brother Kevin and sister Anne-Marie, had a typical Catholic upbringing.

“Our family lived in the developing Auckland suburb of Mangere East in the 50’s and 60’s. We had the usual quarter acre section and we were the only family in the street with children at a Catholic school,” Br David recalled.

According to Br David, his association with the De La Salle Brothers started at an early age, as his parents had strong community connections to the Brothers.

“The Brothers who pioneered the Lasallian mission in New Zealand were all Australians and my Mum and Dad knew them well. I first met the Brothers when I was 3-years-old. They often drove our family home from Mass in the VW combi van. Some of the Brothers who lived in the Auckland community at the time, I still now visit in various communities in Australia.

“At school, I admired the relationship the Brothers had with me and with the other students and this is what prompted my initial inspiration to think about being a Brother. There were a quite a few of us who were so inspired by the Brothers who taught us that we went on to become Brothers” Br David said.

Br David completed the novitiate in 1969 in NSW. After taking his first vows in 1970, he worked at De La Salle Colleges in New Zealand, namely New Plymouth and Mangere East before moving to Australia to work at St. Bede’s College Mentone in Victoria. After some 25 years as a Brother in various leadership positions, Br David Hawke was elected Visitor of the Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea District in 1996. At the conclusion of his term as Visitor, he was then appointed as General Councillor for the Asia Pacific region, which saw him as one of the advisors to the Superior General.

“Even though I’ve been Visitor of our District before, to lead our mission now is vastly different. In some ways, things are a little easier because of the set up of the organisation – we now have a Lasallian Mission Council, a Professional Standards Office, an excellent Provincial office facility and staff at Bankstown and well-established programs like the youth ministry program. When you add all those things together, it makes for a fairly sophisticated administration.

“On the other hand, the Lasallian Mission stretches across even more areas now that Pakistan has merged with our District. It means I need to get my head around the sheer volume of projects and activities taking place – no easy feat. Keeping up with what is happening across the four countries and embracing those involved in our works is a big part of my job as Visitor. It will be a challenge but thanks to modern technology and communication, it will be manageable,” Br David said.

When discussing plans for the future of the District, Br David says, “It’s about building on what is already in place and I look forward to the next four years with hope and confidence.”

In considering his life as a De La Salle Brother, Br David says, “I know it’s right for me. And of course I believe it is good for young men to consider being Brothers.

“I am often asked whether we have guys participating in the Brothers’ formation programs and the answer is, yes, we do. We have Brothers in temporary vows from Papua New Guinea, Australia and Pakistan and younger Brothers with Perpetual Vows in Pakistan and PNG.

“In the words of our founder, St John Baptist de La Salle, ‘The need for this Institute is very great. The young, the poor, the world and the Church still need the ministry of the Brothers’. I firmly believe this and I say to all our young men out there to give it a go.

“And don’t forget that other vocations are encouraged in our Lasallian family with new forms of Lasallian community evolving. Countless people have participated in formation programs conducted both within the District and beyond. The Lasallian Mission in the schools and other enterprises is thriving. I am really encouraged that vocations ministry is a priority in the District.

“There are many ways for people to get involved in our mission to educate and care for young people in need. Our mission is not one that the world can afford to go without. The more people that get involved and support our work, the more we will be able to reach out to the last, the lost and the least in our society,” Br David commented.

This article was first published in the Summer 2014/2015 issue of Engage, the e-newsletter of the De La Salle Brothers in Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea (ANZPPNG) District.