Brother Aidan Smith was farewelled from this life at a moving service at St Patrick’s Church Kilmore on 17 March.
He died peacefully on March 6 at the Marist Community in Campbelltown.
It was most appropriate that the service to celebrate his life was held in Kilmore, as it had a special place in the Smith family history with all four boys from the family attending Assumption College, his father John having constructed some of the buildings and his brother Brian also assisting the college with building works in later years.
Aidan was born Gerald Patrick Smith in Werribee, Victoria on 7 January 1932 to parents John and Rose. He was the youngest of nine children, all of whom have predeceased him, including his brother Michael, also a Marist Brother and former Provincial known as Brother Walter.
Aidan attended Assumption from 1945 to 1949. He was remembered as a good student who made a name for himself on the athletics track and as a member of the First XVIII football side. He was young man at Assumption when the family suffered the loss of their mother and only 18 months later the passing of their father.
Encouraged to follow whatever path he chose, he entered the Juniorate at Macedon in 1950 and became a Brother in 1952.
Known from the beginning of his service as an extroverted, fun-loving Brother, he was a bit mischievous and would ‘stir the pot’. This aside, he was also a practical and jovial man, not sanctimonious but sensitive to individual spirituality.
Brother Aidan was part of a generation of Brother’s in the 1950s that strengthened the Catholic culture and enlivened communities bringing energy, enthusiasm and vitality to their ministry.
He began his teaching career at Marcellin in Camberwell before moving to Forbes in 1954. He left a major imprint on the school as an agriculture teacher and sport coach as well as successfully building a levee bank that has seen the school safely through numerous floods.
He then moved to Marist Brothers Agricultural College in Mount Gambier and at the age of 33 became Principal. Six months sabbatical at the Formation House in Fribourg, Switzerland followed before returning to Principal positions at Marcellin in Camberwell and St Francis Xavier’s College Leeton.
As times changed in the classroom, Brother Aidan found his place in other areas of need. He was a master at making connections within communities and spent time making valuable contributions within Aboriginal communities in Alice Springs and Darwin, with people of all walks of life in Ireland, assisting the Brother’s in New Zealand as the Australian Novice Master and with the Brothers and needy communities in India and Sri Lanka.
His re-connection with the Marist community in Forbes in 2007 saw him transform the front of the College where he established magnificent rose gardens, landscaped lawns and hedges. He was there to greet all who entered and his presence is still felt there today.
In his eulogy, Brother Julian Casey described Brother Aidan as “having a willingness to walk across religious, cultural and other social boundaries. He touched the lives of ordinary people, attending to their suffering, welcoming them into conversation, and sharing their stories of hope. Staying connected empowered his humanity and he left the sort of legacy that Marcellin Champagnat envisaged; humble, simple and modest. He showed that he was always open to turn his hand to something new, always ready to respond to requests to fill a gap and always willing to give of himself in the cause of others.”