Br Michael Flaherty was a Christian Brothers College old collegian and headmaster of the inner city school from 1971 to 1976.
After entering the novitiate in February 1947 he made his first vows in 1948 and his final vows in 1954. He spent time in New Zealand and Victoria before returning to Adelaide to teach at Rostrevor College and then CBC.
In 1976 Br Michael left Adelaide for Rome to undertake spiritual renewal and this was followed by a year of study at Fordham University in New York. He was principal of Samaritan College in Whyalla from 1980 to 1984 and after several years with the leadership team in Western Australia, he returned to CBC in 1990 and until 2013 served as college counsellor and later as mentor and raconteur to junior campus students who eagerly looked forward to his daily visits.
Living at Thebarton enabled Br Michael to extend his influence within the local parish and he came to the fore within the annual Lenten discussion program. Somewhere in all this, he fitted in membership of the Catholic Ministry to Prisons where, as secretary, he was the lynchpin during 20 years of service. He was a keen supporter of fellow community member Br Jock McGee whose ministry included outreach to the Indigenous people in Adelaide.
Br Michael epitomised the life of a Christian Brother. His first love was God. He saw God in the hearts and minds of the children he taught, the staff he led and the parents he served. He spoke often and fondly of his family and he spoke always with humility and deep affection for his fellow Christian Brothers.
He left a deep and loving legacy as headmaster of CBC. The O’Brien and Administration buildings were built under Br Michael’s leadership. The sports fields at Victoria Park were developed and the PE program greatly expanded under his guidance. Yoga, topology, budgeting, sailing, defensive driving and boat building were some of the more unusual electives offered to students in 1976 under his leadership.
Br Michael embraced the appointment of lay staff and spoke eloquently at college speech nights and assemblies in regards to the emerging role of lay teachers in Catholic schools.
Writing to the college community, CBC principal Noel Mifsud said it was with “deep sadness” that we say farewell to Br Michael, Brother, teacher and friend.
“Br Michael you have reached your final resting place with God. May the lilting echo of children playing in the schoolyard, the love and respect of your fellow Christian Brothers and the prayers and gratitude of the CBC community, deliver you to God’s loving embrace.”
In recent years Br Michael was in community with Br Ben McCabe at West Beach. They formed a sacred bond sharing prayer, chatting over meals, going to church together, walking along the foreshore and growing old gracefully.
After moving to Magill, Br Michael struggled with the change and he ended his days at Calvary Flora McDonald Nursing Home where he was well cared for by staff and residents.
Delivering his eulogy, Br Michael Coughlin cfc said all who met Br Michael had lost a “dear friend, a brother, a relative, a man of God”.
“Michael knew and lived what was right. Every step was taken with love. Those whom he companioned came to know his love. He was a counsellor to many. He listened and reflected on what he heard and his advice was always tempered with mercy. His approach was that of a healer, a mender of relationships. Going for a walk with Michael was like walking with God.”