Page 4729 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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I acknowledge the work done by Kelly Behrens, the catchment coordinator for the Ginninderra Catchment Group, and all the volunteers and coordinators for their ongoing work in maintaining and managing the delicate environment in the Ginninderra creek catchment.

All these groups punch well above their weight and often they do work that the government not only could not do unless it had bottomless funds of money but also could not do simply because you cannot buy the commitment and determination that these volunteers possess.

Mr Barry Joseph Cronan

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (6.41): I wish to bring to the attention of the house the passing of Barry Joseph Cronan. If you went to Marist college, Pearce, throughout the 70s, 80s or 90s or even early into this century you would know Barry well. Barry was a maths teacher there from about 1972. I have to say, I was lucky enough to have him for at least five years of maths from what was, in the old style, second form through to sixth form—years 8 till 12 in the current parlance.

Barry unfortunately died on 2 October of a very rare lung disease. At the age of 74, it was very early for a man who should have had a much longer life and a much greater retirement. Barry was born in 1937, went to boarding school in about 1949 at the Marist college at Mittagong and left there as a brother at the age of about 18. He then spent about 50 years teaching generation after generation of students at Marist schools throughout the country. His teaching was excellent—I think he had the knack of not just looking after the bright kids in the class but meeting every kid where they were and genuinely taking an interest not just in their education but in their development as young men growing into adults. For those of us who had the privilege of knowing him, we will miss him dearly.

I was quite lucky to go through Marist with a group of about eight of us who are still friends and we get together regularly. Mr Cronan would every now and then come and attend our get-togethers. Some 30 years after leaving school, to still be in touch with one’s teacher is probably a bit odd in this day and age, but I have to say I am very proud of my friendship with Mr Cronan.

It is a great sadness to me that in all the systems failures we have, and often particularly in the Catholic Church, the things that are pointed out are the evil that is done to people by those who wear the habit of a religious order. When you have a teacher with the dedication of Mr Cronan who can spend almost 50 years continuously teaching, I sometimes think, “Where are their front pages?” He had some time off in his career. He had some difficulties with his career. He graduated as a brother but then left the order. He married his beloved Nola, and we all send our regards to Nola, to his brother Chris and his nieces and nephews and wish them well. It is some regret to me that people like Barry are not remembered for their outstanding service. We have so many excellent teachers, but often all we hear about are the ones that disgrace the profession rather than bring glory to it. And Mr Cronan certainly brought glory to his profession in the way that he behaved.

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