Death of Br Eugene Dwyer FMS
Peter John Dwyer
It is only 7 weeks ago that family, friends and community gathered at Campbelltown to celebrate Eugene’s Diamond Jubilee and his 77th birthday. It was a most enjoyable day for everyone. Eugene was alert, aware of the event and seemed to relish the occasion. He enjoyed having his brothers, Bill (and wife Jenny from Melbourne) and Paul (from Fremantle), with him. It was the first time Paul had visited Eugene since his move to Campbelltown. It’s wonderful that we had this opportunity to acknowledge Eugene’s life, work and commitment as a Brother.
Peter John Dwyer was born 3 September 1941 in East Melbourne to Margaret and John (Jack). He was the oldest of four boys – Bill, Michael (RIP) and Paul were his brothers. Eugene was one of the first students enrolled at Marcellin College Camberwell.
He entered the Juniorate at the age of 12 in January 1954, received the habit on 2 July 1958 and took first vows one year later. He made his final profession at Mt Gambier in 1965 and took the Vow of stability at Templestowe in 1981.
While a student at Champagnat College Dundas, Eugene came under the influence of Ron Fogarty who made a lasting impression. It seems that Eugene was determined to model himself on Ron. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science and a Diploma of Education, Eugene began his secondary school teaching at Forbes. He was intelligent, bright and articulate, and his talents were recognised early. At age 30 he was elected to the Melbourne Provincial Council.
The next, and most significant stage, of Eugene’s ministry began soon after. Between 1974 and 1978 he completed a Masters in Theology at Fordham University, New York, and a Licentiate in Psychology and Formation at the Gregorian University, Rome.
From this point on Eugene made an extraordinary contribution to Formation processes and programmes, not just in Australia or with the Marists, but much more broadly. He introduced contemporary formation processes, such as psychological assessment – something which was not always well received – by aspirants and postulants, or even by Formators. He was Master of Novices, Master of Scholastics and Director of Formation. He conducted Formation and accompaniment courses in Australia and elsewhere. He acted as a consultant in formation to other Congregations. He helped write the Institute’s Formation Guide. He
worked at Marist International Centre (MIC) Nairobi, and Marist Asia Pacific Centre (MAPAC) Manila. This was a work of decades, and from 2006 to 2010 he lectured at the Sydney Institute Sydney and assisted with the formation of Seminarians. He was a respected Psychotherapist and Formator.
Eugene’s capacities were acknowledged and he again served on the Provincial Council in the late 1990’s and was elected as a delegate to the 19th General Chapter.
It was in 2010 that Eugene suffered his first stroke. However, he managed to continue his work, albeit at a slightly slower pace. In 2013 he suffered his major stroke which left him cognitively impaired. Tragically, he never really regained his full mental capacity. With the vascular dementia came weakness of body. He moved to Campbelltown in 2014 and has received excellent care in Molloy House since that time. I am very grateful to the Brothers at Campbelltown and to the carers and nurses there for the kind attention Eugene
has received consistently.
Eugene’s brother Bill recently commented that ‘Peter was always going to be a Brother and he made that well known from an early age’. And so it was. Eugene made his commitment as a 12 year old and never seemed to look back. His commitment was firm; his faithfulness unwavering. I thank God for the life of Eugene and for the positive contribution he made to us and so many over his 77 years. He now rests in the peace of the God he faithfully served.
Mary Our Good Mother – pray for him.
St Marcellin – pray for him.
MAPAC - Memorial Mass for Br Eugene Dwyer, RIP.
- Eulogy prepared and delivered by Br Bill McCarthy.
Br Eugene Dwyer’s family name was ‘Peter.’ When he became a religious he was given the name of ‘Eugene,’ which he chose to keep, when at a later time he might have reverted to ‘Peter.’
I first met Br Eugene Dwyer when he was a boy of about 14 years of age. At that time he was in our Juniorate at Mount Macedon and I was teaching at the Brothers’ school in Camberwell in Melbourne where Eugene went to school before going to the Juniorate. I knew his mother and father and I taught his brothers Bill and Michael Dwyer. His mother was the secretary at the school for some years and his father was a loyal supporter of whatever was happening at the school.
The intelligence of Eugene was manifested early in the success he achieved in his studies and in positions of leadership. After gaining a science degree and a Diploma of Education at the University of Sydney, Eugene taught for a few years at the Brothers’ College in Forbes, after which he went to America to study at Fordham University in New York, and later at the Gregorian University in Rome. He was elected to the Province Council of Melbourne at the age of 30, which was rather extraordinary in those times, and he served again on the Council in the late 1990s. He was elected to the 19th General Chapter which was held in Rome in 1993.
Eugene made an extraordinary contribution to Formation processes and programmes, not just in Australia with the Marists, but much more broadly. In Australia, as a member of the Melbourne Province, Eugene was Master of Scholastics and director of formation. Also, he conducted formation and accompaniment courses in Australia and elsewhere and acted as a consultant in formation to other religious congregations. As a psychotherapist he introduced contemporary formation processes, such as psychological assessment. Later in life he worked in Sydney assisting with the formation of diocesan seminarians. In Rome Eugene was the chairperson of the commission established in 1982 to produce a formation guide to suit the whole of the Marist Brothers’ Congregation.
Eugene became an international figure amongst the Marist Brothers, serving in formation centres and travelling extensively. He was on the staff at Marist International Centre in Nairobi and so became known to brothers in many parts of Africa. He was on the staff at MAPAC from 1999 to 2004 where he had a great influence on students of Asia and the Pacific. When in Papua New Guinea, I heard several students who had been at MAPAC speak of his course, the Theology of the Body. Copies of his text for this course and others that he taught can still be found in the MAPAC library. He became well-known to brothers at the Generalate in Rome, especially through his work on our Marist Formation Guide. Eugene travelled widely, even visiting Argentina twice, as Br Hilario, who is present with us, will testify. I remember a time when a group of Australian Marists, brothers and lay, went to Chile in South America, a country then ruled by a brutal dictatorship. Eugene met with them to provide information about the political and social conditions of that country. Few brothers, if any, in Australia had the first-hand information about South American countries that Eugene had.
Eugene was a pleasant man to meet. He could talk with anyone at their level. He could speak to many foreigners in their own language for he was fluent in European languages such as German, French, Italian, Spanish, and when based in Nairobi, he even learned the language of an African tribe whose language was Swahili. I don’t remember that he took sport seriously, but he used to ride a bicycle in the streets of Manila, and also on the bicycle paths in Melbourne. I understand him to have been a prayerful man who loved the Office, and who would have liked the members of his Fraternity at MAPAC to chant the Office.
So, while we bid farewell to Eugene from this earthly existence, we cherish our memory of him, especially for all that he did for the students and staff at MAPAC, and remember him as a Marist Brother who loved God and who used his talents to the full in the service of his neighbour. May he rest in peace.
From Br John Hazelman
via Peter Carroll.