Ken Boland, City Priest, Outback Speleologist

Ken Boland, much loved knock-about priest to the large congregation at St Francis church in Elizabeth St in central Melbourne, was a first-day student when Marcellin opened its doors in 1950. He remembers the day well.  The desks had not arrived, and his Form 1 teacher was the principal, Br Nilus. He also remembers well his last day at Marcellin, some six years later. Ken boasts that he was expelled from the College. Was he really?  We’ll let you decide. It was the last day of Ken’s Matric year, a traditional day of pranks. Ken decided to play upon the harmonium in the chapel. History does not record what melody Ken played, but whatever it was, it lit the fuse of the then Principal, the redoubtable Br Ludovic, who screamed at Ken, “Get off the property, son, and never come back!” Ken complied with the first command, but not, as we shall see, with the second.

Some years later, Ken applied to become a diocesean priest, but, without receiving any explanation, was told that his application was rejected. Given that his parish priest was supportive, he could only assume that his old school principal had described him as unsuitable material. Maybe that enraged eviction from the property was indeed intended as permanent expulsion. But Ken was to have the last laugh. The Blessed Sacrament Fathers were happy to accept him, he was ordained into the priesthood and was eventually posted to the Order’s community at Templestowe . . . where one of his duties was to say daily Mass for the Marists at Bulleen. So, he did come back to Marcellin, where he took quiet delight in preaching to Br Ludovic.

His postings have taken him to all corners of Australia (Toowomba, Sydney, Bunbury and Melbourne) as well as to Thailand. Now, almost 60 years after been ‘expelled’ from Marcellin, he is still happily serving the people of God. He enjoys semi-retirement by indulging his hobbies, caverneering under the Nullabor Plain and flying instructing.

Of the Brothers, he remembers Br Nilus most affectionately. “I buried him, too,” remarks Ken.  Although many Marcellin boys may have at times felt like burying the principal, Ken may well be unique in actually having done it!