Br Thomas Alexius Howe

Principal 1983

Br Thomas Alexius Howe was appointed Principal in 1983.

Br Howe had two extended spells at St Joseph's College, first from 1960 to 1966 as a science graduate of the University of Melbourne, and then after returning from St Bernard's Essendon, as Principal from 1983 to 1988. Br Howe began with a wide liberal belief that students were committed to learning, they just had to be shown how to go about it, he quickly learned a 'more direct style'. He had an incredible ability to organise down to the finest detail, a burning desire to do his best in whatever he tackled, boundless energy and enthusiasm, sincerity in his realationships with others and his satisfaction with his chosen life of service. He was a keen all-round style sportsman playing cricket for the Old Collegians in local district competition (gaining special dispensation to participate outside the school).

He was known to be a man of great faith who gave emphasis on the religious education program throughout the school. He strongly supported his teachers and though he found leadership through administration teams a burden, he went along with them. Through his vision and energy a multi-purpose centre, a resource centre and a manual arts centre have been established. The building of these facilities was considered essential by Br Howe if St Joseph's was to provide a sound overall education for boys.

The College came under pressure to divest itself from its primary school role, Br Howe fought hard but unsuccessfully to save grades 3 and 4. He believed strongly that St Joseph's offered a real alternative in which young people learned side by side with seniors.

Like his predecessors, Br Howe struggled to raise funds for the College. He got parental support for a Capital Levy and Development Deposit Fund and remained annoyed by the lack of Government funding. He found the introduction of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) a major challenge. He worked long hours both on school administration and on his thesis on Juliana of Norwich, which was to become his solace.

He was extremely compassionate, especially towards people who were ill or suffering a family bereavement. Some students with 'difficult' backgrounds were unhesitatingly accepted into the College, for Tom firmly believed that Catholic Schools had a duty to assist such children.

During his time as Principal, Br Howe suffered the death of his sister Diane. His own illness, which ultimately led to his death, was first noticed in early 1983. Br Howe finished his term as Principal in December 1988 and travelled to New Zealand, but his condition deteriorated and he died on 8 December 1989. Even a few days before his death, he was writing a letter of encouragement and faith to the boys of Year 8 who had sent him cards.

His contribution to the College was recognised by the official opening of the Br Tom Howe Creative Arts Centre located in the oldest building of the College.

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