The Southern Cross The Southern Cross

Read the latest edition. Latest edition

Eco-warrior ahead of his time


Brother Peter Faulkner CFC (born January 22 1928, died February 23 2024) <br />

Print article

Peter Faulkner was born in the mid north of South Australia, the son of Vin and Frances (nee Jenner). His siblings were Len (Archbishop of Adelaide 1985-2001), Margaret, Aileen, Mary, Don and Gerry (all deceased), Vin, Leo and Pat.

His early schooling was at Murray Town and then at St Joseph’s in Gladstone. He described his family as being poor materially but rich with friendship and love. He enjoyed the Bush and the farm life.

At the end of Grade 7 he won a scholarship to board at Rostrevor College where he embraced cricket, football, athletics, gymnastics and in his own words to a lesser extent academic studies. At one stage, he was overheard by the science teacher Brother Watson telling a friend that he was going to drop Chemistry. Brother labelled him a wimp and said ‘you’d be advised to stick with it’. He was ever grateful for this advice because he really grew to love Chemistry and later taught it.

Peter thought about being a brother in his late primary years, initially considering the St John the Baptist Order, a South Australian group which has since gone out of existence. However, after meeting the Christian Brothers at Rostrevor he decided to join them.

He completed his secondary education at Strathfield in the Juniorate with around 120 like-minded young boys from around Australia. He wrote that he appreciated the mix of studies, sports and prayer. He was also there at an exciting time when the Japanese mini-subs appeared in Sydney Harbour and remembers seeing scores of fighter jets flying overhead from the nearby RAAF base at Bankstown.

His first teaching appointment was at Ballarat East where he taught Grades 3 and 4 and then he moved to the technical school, St Paul’s, in Ballarat where he taught Maths and Science. He was able to do a little bit of study at night at the School of Mines.

He was next posted to St Mary’s Geelong and then in 1958 to St Joseph’s Geelong where he taught senior classes for the first time, including Chemistry.

Peter kept himself fit by playing handball, tennis and football. In this era brothers and priests weren’t supposed to play in teams that were organised into official competitions, but he was invited by a young priest to play at St Mary’s, a newly formed club in the A grade district league in Geelong. Hence, he became Mr Pink while another brother and priest were Mr Brown and Mr Black. Needless to say, he was known as Pinky by the brothers from then on. He was very proud to have played at centre half forward in their first premiership team.

The next posting was Moonee Ponds and then St Bernard’s College. He also co-founded the St Bernard Athletics Club where he competed in many events as well.

Finally in 1969, he returned to the newly-formed Holy Spirit Province SA and WA where he worked in schools at St Patrick’s at Geraldton, Christian Brothers College Kalgoorlie, Aquinas College and was then headmaster at Christian Brothers’ College Fremantle. Lastly, he came home to Adelaide where he was deputy headmaster at Christian Brothers College Wakefield Street for nine years.

He had been able to do a little bit of study in the School of Mines in his Kalgoorlie year and this began his love of minerals and rocks. He also had a short time in the Pilbara in northern Western Australia where he helped form a new school at Karratha – St Luke’s. After this came a short period in Broome and then a sabbatical in Rome, called an International Tertianship, after which he and three other brothers hired a car and drove around parts of Europe that they’d longed to see.

As you look back on Peter’s school career you can see that he was a strong teacher of science, a good coach of athletics and football and developed a passion for geology or as he called it rockology. After 47 years of teaching and administrating he began to notice a very slight loss of hearing and decided to call it a day and move on to other interests. At a time when many others would just put their feet up and retire, for Peter new vistas were opening.

He worked in Ozanam camps organised by St Vincent de Paul Society for underprivileged children. He also helped with the establishment of the first Edmund Rice Camps in South Australia, driving a bus and being present.

The late Brother Peter Faulkner

The late Brother Peter Faulkner

Peter had developed a growing interest from reading authors like Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry and our own Fr Denis Edwards, linking his faith story with his interest in geology. This led to him exploring his faith in the mysteries of creation and he became the first executive officer of the Adelaide Archdiocese’s Earth Care Commission. He worked for nine years as a volunteer in this work, which also linked to the Earth Charter Institute SA Branch.

After a decision in 2003 to close the Catholic Earth Care group, Peter was devastated but, in his own words, Kofi Annan came to the rescue because he was discovered by the South Australian branch of the committee of the United Nations and became their environment and sustainability officer.

He found this work to be fulfilling and enjoyed working with people of varying faiths and none. Peter also led many pilgrimages and retreats to the Flinders Ranges which explored faith through the eyes of cosmology and geology. He was, in fact, a true geologian.

Peter once said that Brachina Gorge in the Flinders Ranges was to him a ‘sacred site’ and the retreat was seen as ‘a nature creation experience designed to enhance the participants’ sense of wonder at the planet that we are gifted with and of the creating God who gave it all to us’.

One cannot reflect on Peter’s life without some mention of his motor bike which he called ‘the province bike’ but other brothers rarely got close to it. For nearly 30 years he enjoyed this mode of transport; he rationalised that it saved resources, was safe and saved parking fees when working in the city but other motives were suspected. Riding in the open air gave him a sense of freedom and as he aged it became a red motor scooter which he rode until the age of 90.

Amazingly Peter never completed a university degree; he never really had the opportunity as he was always too busy doing the Lord’s work.

Hence, we say farewell to a great man who is revered by so many. He is remembered by fellow brothers as an eco-warrior who was ahead of his time, an original character who brought humour and colour into their lives.

– John Ahern cfc

More Obituaries stories

Loading next article