Tribute to Brother Marcel Hall (Frank)

Presented at St Paul’s College Chapel Assembly on Thursday 28 July by Br Colin Divane.

Br Marcel’s association with St Paul's began when he came to Richmond Rd as a pupil in year seven when it was Sacred Heart College. Once the new College was opened at Glen Innes he spent his last two senior years there as he lived just down the road.

As a Brother he joined the staff at St Pauls on two occasions, spending 11 years in all as the DRS, the language master and Deputy Principal.

Ask any former student of those years when he was there and they have no difficulty in remembering Marcel. He was a large man, with a big bushy beard with such an out-going colourful personality. Each morning he stood at the school gate welcoming all pupils in by their first name and offering some whimsical comment to put a smile on their face and let every student know that this was their own proud College and that he was their brother.

Although sport of any kind was not his specialty, he was at the forefront of the Polynesian dance and song and forever busy organising concerts, performances and malagas both locally and to the islands of the Pacific. Every Christmas break he was to escort groups of senior students on working bees to Samoa, Tonga and even the remote islands of Fiji. Raising the money for such ventures and putting together the material that would be needed, like paint, toilet fittings, electrical equipment and teaching resources saw him always busy. Those who joined him on those inter-culture experiences and there were at least a dozen, still recall them as the major highlights of their youthful days.  

Today when we look around our College hall the pillars of a Marist Education are boldly displayed. It is no surprise then when reviewing the life of Br. Marcel we can see the spirit of these pillars in action as he earnestly strove  embodying them all. And we know he went that extra mile for when he died earlier this week he left no money in his pocket, no assets, no wife or children for he had long since gifted all to his God for 65 years of his life as a religious brother.

This may seem remarkable until we begin to realise that his legacy of spirit is now shared by the thousands of pupils and parents he befriended and influenced over many years. John Bradley, a student from the forties, says of Marcel, “The passing of a lovely man, a great educationalist and everything a  Marist brother represents.” And Ed Johnston adds,” Marz was one of the brothers that made a huge impression on me, my brothers and the wider St Paul’s community over many decades. Alofa to the Marist family. Ia Manuia.”

Well we might ask, who now stands up to replace this servant of Champagnat in our midst? Gentlemen, look about you and you will see a host of dedicated teachers who have studied and honed their teaching skills so that you may have a life and live it to the full. Their personal qualities and commitment to our school community all contributes towards your development, your  wellbeing and ultimately, your satisfaction in a life worth living. Marcel once stood where they now stand. In turn, year after year, we all are invited to unite in being one Marist family. This journey is now.

For the past few years Marcel has been in retirement and lived next door to our College with Brs John and Colin. Twice a week he journeyed over to Kelmana Ave to Fr. Choy’s Chinese community to engage them in English conversation. I was never quite sure how much they learnt but I do know he came home with some delightful tasty Chinese dishes which we looked forward to enjoying. Where people gathered you could be sure that he wanted to be included no matter his limited health condition. 

St Paul's has had a robust history in its short 68 years. We give thanks for the many who have brought us to our standing today, our Old Boys, Parents, Teachers, Chaplains and Brothers. Sadly we farewell our Br Marcel who now takes his place at the Waikaraka Cemetery alongside our many confreres like George, Anselm, Patrick, some fifty in all, many of them having taught here at  St Paul’s College. Nothing would give them more pleasure than to know that you, our present students, carry their memory with the pride and respect for our College’s motto, Confortare Esto Vir.