Class of ‘53

Not often in the history of the school did a talented pupil decide to dedicate his life’s work to the brotherhood which educated him, but James “Barry” Paton is one who did. Above-average but not outstanding, especially at sport, Jim was a member of the class of ‘53. It was not for long however as he dramatically announced to his family that he had decided at the mere age of 14 to become a Christian Brother. His father, who was not a Catholic, was very far from impressed but admirably vowed he would never stand in his way.

So it was to be that Jim found himself one of the youngest ever teacher trainees from the Brothers’ training college in Strathfield in Sydney, only four years later, to teach for the first time at CBC Wakefield St in Adelaide. During a rare visit to see him at work in the role, the sight of the newly named “Brother Barry” throwing himself into his work and coaching the under 10s and 11s in cricket won his father over. Finally, his father gave him his blessing on his chosen career.

After four years in Yarraville, Melbourne he was posted back to Leederville in Perth for nine years and was reunited with his family on a more regular basis. The complete conversion to the Brotherhood was apparent to his younger brother, who, ten years earlier had lost a huge role model. Brother Barry spent very many years in Papua New Guinea but returned to Perth and passed away in 2009.

Those who knew him, most often refer to the manner of the man: “genial: easy to get on with”. A quality that surely made him a great teacher. Another was his ability to spar intellectually with his students. He would often take the contrary view to put them through their paces, mentally. Those who knew him say Brother Barry was not the best-organised person and other than swimming, not a sportsman. But from a young age, he felt a strong calling to follow his path and become a Christian brother. Another oft mentioned quality was “his care and concern for those people less accepted by others”. Brother Barry changed many students’ lives and possessed a “deep calm”, which many attributed to his faith: “He was a true “Brother” at heart.”