Among the many great men buried in our cemetery at Glen Osmond, South Australia is Br. Stephen Walsh. Br. Stephen was one of those legends that have almost become folk-lore.
Stephen was born in Blackforest, South Australia on the 26th of December 1905. He was educated at St. Thomas's Convent of Mercy School and later finished his education at the Dominicans and finally Christian Brothers College, Wakefield St, Adelaide SA.
He left school at the age of 14 and worked as a clerk and salesman for a shoe machinery company and later became a fuller Brush Salesman.
His interest in Religious Life began with the contact of a Lay-Brother at Rostrevor College. Stephen joined the Passionists at Mary's Mount Goulburn NSW, in January 1929. He became a Novice on the eight of September 1929 and was no doubt conscripted into the sandal making trade for the Passionists because of his previous work with a shoe company.
One rather heroic aspect of his life was the time he spent nursing Confrater Paul Pilkington. Paul, one of our students was very sick with T.B. and eventually died of the complaint. Because it was so contagious, isolation was essential. Br. Stephen caught the disease and was sent to the mountains for three years to recover.
There were many things that Stephen did well, but perhaps the best of them was to talk, not surprising that his brother Frank became Premier of South Australia. It was reported that once he answered a wrong number on the phone and kept them talking, total strangers for twenty minutes. He was a perfect host, a wonderful cook and a much loved community person.
Br. Stephen was the first Australian to become a Passionist Brother and take Vows in the Province. Stephen had a great sense of humour and a never-to-be-forgotten laugh. He was a stickler to detail and could recite without fail how nearly every member of the province preferred their fried eggs, then sunny-side up, soft centres, turned over, ect, always graced their plates.
Once at the opening of the Good Samaritan Convent in Sydney, Stephen was still at home when the Cardinal's Bentley car pulled up and enquired the location of the convent. Stephen offered to show the driver and jumped in…..as the car pulled up at the official dias, he was escorted onto the platform and offered one of the official chairs. Regrettably this meant one chair was short for the distinquished guests and his local Superior had to search for another one.
This amused all who heard the story and Stephen laughed himself so much while telling it that only portions of the story was heard.
Everyone that met Stephen was impressed with him. Stephen was always there regardless of time, always working, always cheerful.
Stephen became a legend, but more than that, he became a model to show that Religious life was worth living….and could be enjoyed as well.
Stephen died on the 15th July 1981 and is buried at Glen Osmond, together with so many of his fellow Passionists that in his life he cared for.