GPL was in the twilight of his career when I began at St Bede’s as Rector in 2002. In considering whether to come to St Bede’s, some had warned of Gary’s formidable character. They were correct!! When appointed and the feet were under the desk inevitably there were challenges as changes were proposed. There were plenty of robust discussions between the two of us and sometimes an agreement to disagree!! However once decisions were made, he showed unfailing loyalty to them and me. Further plans and decisions occurred but along the way, I received an induction to the College, from one who knew its history so well. Decisions were made respecting always what was best for St Bede’s and conversations continued also, about interests, such as Shakespeare, history, rugby, music and cricket to name a few. All along the way, it was a superb induction into the College I had taken on as the Rector.
I quickly came to appreciate that GPL was a man of routine. He arrived on the dot at 6.45 am, faded red lunch box in hand after a brisk walk from Vagues Road, no matter what the weather. By 7am he was in the chapel to say his prayers. This was his time, and this was the foundation of every day of his 31-year career at St Bede’s. Whether it was to teach or coach, to offer wisdom by admonishment or encouragement and whether that was imparted from the rostrum for all to hear at ranks or assembly, or discreetly for the ears of a few, GPL’s core Catholic and Marist values and principles were always at the heart of everything he did. It is no surprise at all that the College and the family were inundated with messages of grief, admiration and support, and it was no surprise either that the College Gym was filled with mourners at his requiem mass held at his alma mater.
When I first arrived at St Bede’s, Gary told me he’d give me 3 years. By this time, I was enjoying working with him so much, I asked him to stay another year. He accepted the offer in a heartbeat, after, of course, he received affirmation from Mother!!! I will always be indebted to the superb introduction I received from GPL, just as much as the ensuing friendship both our families have enjoyed over the past 20 years.
RIP Gary Patrick Lennon
Justin and Genevieve