By Amanda Murthy
More than 800 people gathered at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Girrawheen Parish, on 21 August to bid their final goodbyes to Christian Brother Geoffrey John (Lucius) Seaman CFC, who died of heart failure 19 August at the age of 88.
Br Geoff – who was highly regarded in his community as an educator, humanitarian, and leader for his active involvement in various charities and groups – was laid to rest at Karrakatta Cemetery following a 10.30am funeral Mass.
The Mass was celebrated by Girrawheen Parish Priest Father Albert Saminedi SDB and was presided by Bunbury Bishop Gerard Holohan, a former student of the deceased.
Br Geoff was born in Mount Magnet, Perth on 19 November 1930 – the eldest of six children born to Reginald and Dorothy Seaman.
The family lived through the tough years of the Great Depression and relocated to Wurarga in 1941.
Br Geoff completed his studies at CBC Geraldton. While studying at the college, he and his classmates were moved to Tardun during the years when Australia was under attack.
His journey with the Christian Brothers began in 1947 at age 17.
After completing his training in NSW, Br Geoff began teaching at Cardinal Gilroy College in Ingham, Queensland in 1950.
He then went on to teach at many other Christian Brother schools and colleges throughout Australian between 1955-1992 – including the Charters Towers Mt Carmel College (Queensland); CBC Perth; Trinity College WA; St Paul’s, Adelaide (where he was Principal); CBC Adelaide; CBHS Highgate; CBC Adelaide; St Pat’s, Geraldton; CBC St Mark’s, Highgate Bedford (Principal); and CBC Fremantle.
In 1995, he arrived at Girrawheen Parish, where he would spend his remaining years serving the underprivileged, migrants and refugee communities, and continuing his love for teaching in schools and within the parish (RCIA and Children’s Catechesis).
In his homily, Fr Saminedi said Br Geoff had been “a living Saint”, who always went out of his way to speak for the voiceless.
“He attended Mass at our parish and was largely involved in almost every group within the Parish in one way or another – from the children’s group, youth, St Vincent De Paul (and the) RCIA program,” he added.
“He loved the poor very much and would even go to the extent of picking up the migrants and refugees from the airport, making sure they were welcomed; Br Geoff was truly a man of God who loved the community dearly.
“Personally, I gained so much from his wisdom as a spiritual brother in Christ. The loss of Br Geoff leaves a huge void in the parish, and we will never forget all he has done for us,” Fr Saminedi concluded.
Edmund Rice Centre Director Stephen Bowman said Br Geoff’s gentle nature, outstanding service, inspiring works and presence to all will be greatly missed by everyone at the centre.
“Br Geoff was a founding member of the Edmund Rice Centre 20 years ago, serving as a Board Member for six years, and volunteering as an English teacher until his passing,” Mr Bowman said.
“In 2003, Br Geoff was awarded the Centenary Medal in recognition of his service to education and support for the disadvantaged and refugee-migrants in our community.
“Until last week he was teaching English to his class, meeting with people to arrange travel loans, advocating for the disadvantaged in our community and being in community with his fellow Christian Brothers. We will miss him dearly.”
The Christian Brothers paid tribute with a note that read: “We will remember Br Geoff as one who lived life joyfully, and simply, in gentleness, compassion and love.”
Girrawheen Parish youth group leader Russell Augustin said the youth would never forget Br Geoff’s message of self-giving, putting others first and being a true ambassador for Christ.
“He always went out of his way to support the young people and never failed to pass us generous compliments, often checking in to see how we were doing,” Mr Augustin said.
“His memory will live on in our hearts forever.”