Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
2 Feb 2015
"The Hon Brian Sully is known to many of the Sisters who take great delight that his long and dedicated service to the judiciary and to the law, and in particular for legal education, have been recognised," says Sr Giovanni Farquer rsj. "He attended the Josephites' Mount Street Primary School as a young boy where he also trained to serve on the altar of the Convent Chapel where. He was known and loved by Novices and Sisters throughout the Josephite community."
Just as the Sisters of St Joseph remember the Hon Brian Sully as a schoolboy and take pride in his many achievements, he pays tribute to Sisters and what he describes as "a first class primary education."
The respected and much admired Sydney-based QC who is also Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Western Sydney and who served on the Bench of the NSW Supreme Court from 1989 until 2007, vividly remembers his early schooling at Mount Street Primary when he was taught by the Josephites.
"The Sisters were a powerful daily example for me as a small boy. Back then they still wore the habit which was a marvellous witness to what used to be said as 'being in the world but not of it,'" he says. "They led a simple but edifying spiritual life that was at the centre of everything they did. They were marvellous examples and wonderful teachers."
The was attached to the Mother House at North Sydney.
"During my years at Mount Street Primary I passed through the stern hands of Sister Mary Fiacre, who was legendary for the success with which she groomed primary school students both for the Primary Final and the State Bursary exams," he says adding that despite Sister Mary's efforts, he did not secure a State Bursary.
"My maths let me down. But my Primary Final results were sufficient to win me the James Murphy Bursary and that sustained me throughout my first year at Mosman, at the end of which I succeeded in winning a State Bursary," he recalls.
From the age of 4 until he was 12 years old he was taught by the Sisters at Mount Street before going on to secondary school at the Marist Brothers High School in Mosman."Back in those days the High School was sited at Cardinal Street Mosman but later would later be relocated to Ridge Street, North Sydney and reincarnated as Marist College North Shore," he says.
Remembering his years at school, it is the Sisters of St Joseph and the spiritual guidance he received from them as well as the example they set that continues to resonate.
"I was trained at Mount Street to serve on the altar of the Convent Chapel. Initially the Sacristan was the Sister Leone Ryan, who became in time, Mother General of the Order and one of the very best," he says.
But it was Sister Vincent Murphy, one of Sister Leone's successors as Sacristan at the Mount Street Chapel, who not only had a positive and lasting influence on his faith and values as a boy but who went on to become a lifelong friend.
"The setting in which I initially met Sr Vincent was as Sacristan and I subsequently worked with her for many years in connection with altar serving at the Chapel," the Hon Brian Sully says.
Over the years he kept in touch with Sister Vincent who is now in her nineties, and when she was relocated to a nursing home facility at Hunters Hill, he became a regular visitor.
Like so many recipients of this year's Australia Day honours, the Hon Brian Sully was astonished at being singled out for recognition and admits he was both "surprised and gratified" by the award.
"Perhaps I have vindicated all the hard work the Sisters put in all those years ago," he says adding that the memories he carries from so long ago have, in their own way, been "a source of quiet pleasure and satisfaction" on the occasion of his recent honour at being awarded an AM.