The family community

Numerous priests and brothers were part of the Redemptorist community during the 58 years at Brighton. They came from interstate and overseas. Some religious, such as Fr Bill Stinson and Bishop Paul Bird, stayed many years while the tenures of others were more fleeting.

To cater for the number of priests and brothers, the upstairs floor was converted into smaller bedrooms. However, in keeping with the original owner’s request, changes to the overall structure of the house were kept to a minimum.

Amongst the long-time residents were Majellan editors Bill Stinson CSsR, Max Barrett CSsR, Bishop Bird CSsR and Michael Gilbert CSsR. Fr Stinson, whose reign as Majellan editor far surpassed all others, was also the face of the Redemptorist missionary campaign for many years.

Another long-time occupant was Brother John Baker CSsR who spent many years at Brighton working in the mailroom. In many respects Brother John could be described as the life and soul of the magazine’s production and distribution hub.

In our 70th anniversary book Father Gilbert reflected on Br John’s contribution. “Br John was appointed manager of Majellan Publications. This role was his metier – the point to which his natural gifts, his training, his life experience and his spirituality led.

“John developed his own managerial style – a style that would not be found in text books. Mission almost never operates by ‘management by objectives’ but listens to the Spirit and makes decisions based on commitment, communication and explicit trust in God. Brother John developed these qualities in spades.

“One of John’s talents was the ability to recruit and inspire lay staff who were committed to the mission of The Majellan. Often, they began their careers as teenagers recruited to assist with the Christmas rush but they then went on to become full time employees. They left to rear children and then return in later life.”

Also deserving of special mention was Father John Shelton. Bishop Bird, who was editor for 14 years, added, “Those who have been on the Majellan team over the years have shown great empathy for the readers, in all the ups and downs of their lives. As one example I would mention Fr John Shelton who served by answering readers’ letters.

“Fr Shelton himself suffered from poor health. When someone wrote in about some family sadness, Fr Shelton would reply with a hand-written letter of several pages, expressing his sympathy for their suffering and offering his prayers for them and their family,” said Bishop Bird.

Majellan House was also the workplace for many lay people who worked in administration and in the mailroom. It was a real family affair with the workforce consisting of siblings, friends and even mothers and daughters.

The Majellan, for many years, was known as the ‘Champion of the Family’, a motto it proudly emulated not only in print but in practice and in spirit.

Image top: John Baker CSsR doing what he enjoyed … working at Majellan House.

Image middle: Enjoying a cuppa in the kitchen soon after moving into Brighton in 1963 were (seated at the table and left to right), Fr Bill Stinson, Fr Vincent Page, Fr James Doherty and Fr Max Barrett. Standing Br John Baker (Left) and Br Reginald McGuire.

Image bottom: Religious and lay staff at Majellan House in the early 2000s.