Vale Br Hugh Sharpe
Br Hugh Sharpe 14.01.1929 – 19.7.2019 (SVC staff 1978-93)
Artist, poet, dedicated follower of Blessed Edmund Rice, a man loyal to his Scottish heritage, and much loved by his family. These are just a few of the special qualities of Br Hugh Sharpe who died on July 19 in the Box Hill Hospital.
Hugh’s family left Scotland in the 1920s and settled in Hobart where Hugh was born and, at a young age, he went with his family to Perth and to school at Victoria Park and St George’s Terrace.
In January 1944, he travelled to St Enda’s Juniorate in Strathfield. In the following years, he completed his secondary education before moving to the novitiate and then to the teacher training course.
He began his teaching ministry in 1948, at Burwood then to South Brisbane before moving to Fremantle. This began twenty years in the West that included leadership positions in East Victoria Park and Highgate and then short terms in Kalgoorlie, Fremantle and Aquinas. Significant years were spent in Hobart before moving back to Fremantle to complete his studies that included a Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Spirituality, and Master of Educational Studies.
Hugh engaged with life, he engaged with people, he engaged with planet Earth, he engaged with the Jesus and Edmund stories, and through all of this, he engaged with the mystery we call God.
To give an example of Hugh the poet:
The Questions of Thomas Quan
(Edmund Rice sold his lucrative business to Quan )
What has happened to you Edmund Rice?
What has turned your head, Edmund Rice?
You have broken your merchant mould
You walk the cobblestones seeking the poor
Favouring the company of urchins and petty thieves
How can you stand the stench of matted hair and rags,
Prisoners’ caustic voices, their stolid stares…
But why, why?
… to educate the outcasts, hovel-bound?
… a hard-won fortune fretted away so soon?
Why this madness? Would you disgrace us all?
God only knows!
Hugh’s poetry was a means of him exploring and sharing his faith. Gospel stories were pored over, picked apart, and joined with the experience of family and life, many bore fruit in poems, fruit of his own prayer life and ponderings about Jesus.
Hugh spent several periods in East Africa, sharing his artictic gifts with the postulants at Arusha.
Two of Hugh’s works – an African mother and child and an impression of the widowed Edmund Rice holding his daughter Mary.
In 2010 Hugh wrote the following:
“I am very grateful to God, my Father, for all his goodness and gifts to me especially my vocation. I would like a joyful celebration. Where there is joy, there is God.”
May his gentle and generous soul rest in peace.
(Sincerest thanks to Brother Sean McManus and Brother Terry Burke for the above material.)