J & J Barnes
17 Grenda Drive
Mill Park Vic 3082
Ph: (03) 9436 7355
Dear Friends of Br Andrew
It is with a heavy heart that we write to you with the news of Br Andrew's death. However we rejoice that he has gone home to be united with Jesus, and we now have our very own saint in heaven to pray to.
Those who were at his last day of prayer at Glowrey House on the 29th July will remember that Brother was well and in good spirits. We were planning for further days of prayer. Little did we know he had only 8 weeks to live.
Following the Glowrey House day, Brother gave a retreat in Sydney and was preparing to follow that with a trip to the Philippines. It was while he was in Sydney that he became ill. He struggled on to finish the retreat, as he said without much energy.
Back in Melbourne, he was not picking up and sought medical advice. It was confirmed that he had stomach cancer - and it was rapid.
We received a note from Brother dated 31st August, to tell us he was feeling "seedy" and he had cancelled the Philippines trip.
Our next communication was a phone call on 22nd September. Brother asked if we were ready for a shock, then said "it's cancer and its rapid". He went on to say he had asked the Missionaries of Charity Sisters in Fitzroy, if he could come to them to die.
The sisters welcomed him with much love and considered it a great privilege to take care of him. He arrived at 101 Gore Street on 23rd September about 4.00pm, with his only worldly possessions in a small bag.
We went to see him that day and it was evident that he was very sick. Brother told us he was very peaceful about everything and his great joy was that he had come "home" to the M.C.'s to die. While we were there he looked around the room the sisters had prepared. The room was very basic and simple - on one wall a picture of Mother Teresa, on another wall a table with a small wooden tabernacle on it and a large picture of the Sacred Heart above it. Near his bed was a little sign written by the Sisters which read "A Heartfelt Welcome to our Dearest Br Andrew" As he looked around the room he said to us "Isn't it beautiful? I have everything." He died at 5.45am, 11 days later on 4th October.
How blessed we were to witness such a holy death! Each day he struggled, accepting everything, complaining about nothing, and finding beauty even in the things that could have been a bother. Occasionally he would ask someone to read a prayer for him. At other times he was heard whispering quiet prayers.
The doctor came and prescribed injections to control and manage the pain. One of the sisters was able to administer these injections as required. Brother was never alone; together with the sisters we kept a 24-hour vigil at his bedside.
On one of the nights we were sitting with him, Br asked us to open the tabernacle door, and there was the familiar little monstrance that we have all prayed before on our retreats and days of prayer. It was so wonderful to be there in the silence of the night, with Jesus and Brother beside us. We felt we were there that night for all of you who loved him.
On the morning of his death, John and I took over the vigil at 1.00am. Brother was fairly comfortable but around 1.30am we could see he needed an injection, so we called sister and she administered the injection.
From then on Br was very calm and we were thanking God as he seemed to be sleeping more peacefully than at any other time.
Around 5.00am, two sisters came to relieve us, and after some 'change over chat' we were preparing to climb into bed, when suddenly one of the sisters called us to come quickly. - Brother gave a little jerk - opened his eyes widely - closed them, and gave a few gentle gasps - and his suffering was over.
All the sisters in the community were called and we knelt around his bed and said the Rosary and Litany to Our Lady. R.I.P. Brother Andrew.
It was the feast of St Francis of Assisi.
The enclosed copies of addresses given by Fr Daven Day S.J. and Br Geoff M.C., at the requiem mass from Br Andrew will complete the story.
In closing we praise and thank God for the life of Br Andrew and the gift that he was to each of us.
JENNY & JOHN
First of all I would like to state that I stand here today, as Fr Daven mentioned, on behalf of Br Yesudas, the General Servant of the Missionaries of Charity Brothers. But I am also here on behalf of all of the M.C. Brothers - and those who were with us for a time but have since left us. All of them would have wished to be sitting there among you all today. I suppose in some way I also stand here for Sister Nirmala and all of our MC family who have sent with me their love and greetings to all of you.
I find myself wanting to speak as if all of those MC Brothers were present here - and to share with you the message that I think Br Andrew was always trying to give to his Brothers - and to many others.
I believe that one of the main inspirations that Br Andrew tried to share through his life and words was, to put it in a few words, that our poverty can be our greatest wealth - because it is in our poverty that God can find an empty space to come in and work in us and love us fully.
That poverty can have many forms. It can be in an external lifestyle that is as materially simple as circumstance permit. It can be in any form of human brokenness, tragedies, weaknesses, things we cannot control in our lives or even just little things that are not quite as we would like them to be.
It can be a poverty that is freely chosen or, as is more open the case, it can be something that is given to us and can only be freely accepted.
We MC Brothers have always had plenty of those kinds of poverty - especially of that kind that is given rather than what we have freely chosen. There have always been many things that were not ideal, that were not 'neat and tidy' or up to some standard.
In his last visit to the Brothers in India at this time last year, in his last talk to the Brothers, Br Andrew tried again to give us this message - that it is all OK. Even that fact that he was no longer with us as a formal member, it is still OK. He mentioned in that talk on the 24th of October last year, that if his life was like something on a cassette tape which he could re?tape and act it out again, he would not want to re-live it any other way, even the painful parts.
Even the circumstances of his last days, as far as we Brothers are concerned, had some disappointments. No Brother could be here to care for Br Andrew in his helplessness. None of us could manage to get a last meaningful message to him before he left us. I could not reach him in time to express the love of all the Brothers for him - and our General Servant, Br Yesudas could not get the visa in time to reach here for this funeral. And still I hear Br Andrew telling us: Don't worry. It's all OK. It's our story. It's how we are and, for God's sake, just offer it all to Him and let Him do his marvelous works through it all.
The spirit of MC, as Mother expressed it, is a spirit of total surrender, loving trust and cheerfulness. Br Andrew will always be for the MC Brothers our best example of this spirit.
We will always thank God for the great gift of Br Andrew to us as our Co-founder and I have a feeling that there is still much that we need to learn from him and from his life's message.
As I am here with you today, I am very conscious that we MC's share in the gift of Br Andrew as only one of four 'families' or phases of his life - his life as a Travers-Ball, his life as a Jesuit, his life as an MC and his life as a friend and inspiration to all those that God brought into his "small boat" as he at one time called it.
And seeing that all four of those families are represented here today reminds me that they were not separate phases but in some way interconnected, always supporting and strengthening one another.
Thanks be to God that we could al! be here today to farewell this wonderful brother to all of us.
This is not a eulogy, rather a short reflection on how Ian Travers-Ball, Br Andrew, has touched the lives of each of us in a special way, and how that, on this day that he leaves us, it is important that the witness of his whole life speak to each of us. I, too, have been largely moulded by Ian - by his humour, commonsense and idealism in our novitiate and by the advice given in brief meetings over many years as our paths crossed in India, Hong Kong and the Philippines. More recently it has been the comfort of sometimes spotting Ian from a Melbourne tram as he went for his walk round Hawthorn, easily recognisable in his old pullover and hat - and feeling a security - ah Ian's home for a while!
In a kernel, Ian showed us all how to live simply and how to be truly simple. This was not something pious. He rejected all forms of showiness and with vehemence never allowed the mantle of guru to be placed on his shoulders. He was a sophisticated man, well versed in the ways of the world with his mother's charm and compassion and his father's eye for the fine things of life. His simplicity was his transparency - he simply made God the main priority of his life. At 23 he fell in love with God and through bad days and good he never took his eyes off God. Ian did this so effortlessly that he has been able to cajole all of us to have a shot at doing the same, but always in our own way.
There are many hurdles to jump before one can become free enough, not to worry about oneself, what one will wear, how one will survive, how one can be completely free and available to God, and Ian didn't conceal his own hurdles from us, and how on the really big ones he had to take several run ups before he could get over them ? he shared his vulnerability with appealing candour and great Australian humour.
This is not to praise Ian, it is rather to encourage you and also myself. Ian shows us that we really can follow the Lord very closely, that it doesn't matter what career we follow in life we can be transparent in our priorities, simple in our lifestyle - we can be free to love God. Above all, in some way we all carry Ian's mantle - there is a real possibility that we can bring some of the Travers-Ball charm, humour and laid back style into our life stories. I suspect its already there - Ian's magnetism has always been contagious. Ian would laugh but for better or worse it depends on what we do with it, some of his holiness has surely rubbed off on all of us. Avanti, Brother Andrew, into God's future but please keep us all within your horizon.
Daven Day, SJ
Contact: Jack Smith: phone 61-2-62583824 email@example.com