Our school in Buenos Aires is Cardenal Newman College, founded by the Irish Christian Brothers in 1948. Since the 1840s, many Irish immigrants had arrived in Argentina and the Irish Community had pleaded with the Brothers for many years to set up a school. They set up a wonderful college, moving to a beautiful site in San Isidro in 1970. Newman operates in the Edmund Rice tradition and values academic achievement, faith formation, sport, community and parental involvement. Parents and past pupils are involved in the school`s extensive outreach pastoral programs. In my first few days I saw how the school community gathered clothes, food and drinking water for the unfortunate homes flooded in Lujan.
One of the Brothers, Br. Thomas, travelled by bus and train to Buenos Aires on our first few nights to visit and make sure we were alright. Rain and thunder didn’t deter him and it was lovely to see a friendly face and hear a familiar accent. He arrived with a smile and was wonderful company recounting anecdotes about Galway, hurling and his time in Montevideo and Buenos Aires. He cares and it shows, drawing the best out of people as he stands every morning, at the college entrance, welcoming pupils, parents and staff by name. He travels around Buenos Aires on public buses and trains chatting to locals and visiting hospitals. He has a kind word or a joke for everyone and is highly-regarded and loved by the Newman Community.
I know Br. Burke in Ireland, he was principal of Newman for eighteen years. Each principal brought something different to Newman and Br. Burke had a profound influence on the school community, expanding arts education, nurturing music, art and creativity. Whenever his name comes up in conversation, it’s clear that past pupils and staff revere him. They say that he left a huella (a footprint) on the school encouraging and inspiring those around him. This impressive college in Buenos Aires is a lasting legacy of the Irish Christian Brothers’ commitment to education.