Bill EdwardsThe spirit of Salesianity that still lives on today is a result of the major contributions Fr Bill Edwards has made to the establishment of the College. Fr Bill Edwards (1928-2010) was an integral figure in the history of Salesian College Chadstone, reflected in the construction of our Fr Bill Edwards Auditorium. He was the boy from Wollongong who spent his whole life in the service of God and His people as a Salesian priest. Fr Bill carried the personal crosses that were ever-present in his life, and helped others carry their crosses. He walked alongside all those who suffered through the ‘valley of darkness’, consoling, comforting and reassuring them of God’s presence and love.
Fr Bill Edwards was born in 1928, and was ordained a priest in July 1956 by Cardinal Norman Gilroy, a former Bishop of the Port Pirie Diocese. This marked the beginning of fifty years of incredible service, sacrifice and availability.
His priestly ministry can be broken up into two periods. For almost forty years he served in the Australian Church, mainly in Melbourne. For the next eleven years he served as a missionary in Samoa, and then Fiji. In 1958, aged only twenty-nine, and less than two years after his priestly ordination, Fr Bill was appointed Prefect of Studies (Headmaster) of Salesian College Chadstone.
Past students Michael Wood, Michael Harris and John Stretch have found memories of ‘burning the midnight oil’ to produce the College’s fortnightly paper, the ‘Omnibus’. Fr Bill provided plenty of encouragement and editorial support, and would even smuggle food from the Salesian kitchen to keep the budding journalists well fed.
In addition to being an outstanding teacher, from the outset Fr Bill was generous with his time and displayed a caring concern for all those he taught. Mike Henry, a student at Salesian College Chadstone from 1957-1962, said of Fr Bill, “He was by far and wide my favourite Salesian… a great man, generous to the ’nth degree”.
He died on Saturday 5 June, 2010, aged eighty-two years, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. His death notice in the ‘Herald Sun’ captured the depth of his holiness and giftedness.
“He was one of the Province’s outstanding Priests and Salesians…His profound humanity, gentle sense of humour and his ability to endure adversity and to support others in adversity single him out as a remarkable human being and follower of Jesus Christ.”
The Provincial of the Salesians in the Australia-Pacific Province at the time, Fr Francis Moloney, said of his passing, “Rejoice in the life of this man whom I would regard as perhaps the Australian Salesian who most closely resembled Don Bosco himself”.
Fr Frank Bertagnolli, the current Rector of Salesian College Chadstone, reflects on the influence Fr Bill Edwards has had on our school.
“The spirit of Salesianity that still lives on today is a result of the major contributions Fr Bill Edwards has made to the establishment of the College”
Source: ‘G’Day Cobber – Dare to be a Saint, The Life and Letters of Fr. Bill Edwards SDB’ by Fr Stephen Ardill. For more information or to order a copy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Hall Of Fame Inductee - Religious Life