Home' Teacher : April 2011 Contents OUTSIDE THE SQUARE 69
Doug's day starts like many others, with administrative tasks
such as checking emails and sorting out his busy schedule. He
admits that he rarely knows what it will bring. Every day there
will be something that comes across his desk that he loves doing
or somebody new to meet. True to his word, the day I spend with
Doug starts frantically. I suspect not many of us have experienced
a flat battery and busted door on a charity van, travelled to see
a mechanic mate in St Kilda who does a priority fix on it and
heard a talk by a younger colleague, Danusia, on the devastation
of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, all by 1:00pm. Welcome to the
life of Brother Peter Douglas 'Doug' Walsh.
Doug is a small, solid man -- he may even have been described
as athletic once. Wearing large glasses and, decked out in a snug
maroon knit and grey pressed pants, he looks every inch a retired
school principal or boarding master, which is just as well: he is in
fact both. He strides with the purposefulness of a man anticipat-
ing his next task. With a wide smile and a firm-gripped double
handshake, I get a glimpse of Doug the Marist Brother, Doug the
teacher, mentor and friend.
Born in Werribee in Melbourne's west during the war years,
Doug spent his childhood playing with his twin sister and two
older brothers in Beulah and Bendigo where his father worked as
a school principal and his mother as a part-time primary teacher.
'Mum was a gentle and caring woman; I think I took after her
and my sister took after my dad. She was more rela xed and I was
always on the go like my mum.'
He was introduced to the Marist Brothers when he attended
Catholic College Bendigo. Inspired by the Marist Brothers he
met here, he joined the order as soon as he left school. The next
five decades were spent teaching religion, science and sports,
and caring for male boarders in Marist schools across Australia.
Having already celebrated 50 years as a teacher and Marist
Brother in 2004, 'officially' Doug is now a member of the Marist
Ministry's Formation and Vocations team where he works with
young people in the ongoing formation of Brothers in the com-
munity. He's also the president of the Melbourne St Vincent de
Paul Society's soup van, which provides food for 700 or so people
each night, as well as the national project coordinator for St Vin-
cent De Paul, overseeing projects such as the Assist a Student
scholarship program aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in
Thailand. He was also awarded the Order of Australia Medal
for his services to St Vincent De Paul in September 2009. But as
he firmly insists, when I ask for his 'actual' title, 'Don't worry
about titles; they mean nothing.' Instead, 'It's all about relation-
ships and networking.'
God knows, he's good at that.
Doug appreciates the balance required when communicating
with youth. 'You have to work with them,' he points out, and,
'You have to give incentives.' He recalls an attempt at one school
to get students more involved in sport by turning the athletics
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