Provincial Celebrates Golden Jubilee
Br. Laurence Kearns, Provincial of the West European Province celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Profession on
Born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England in 1943, Michael Kearns is the son of Joseph and Margaret Kearns who were Irish immigrants at the time. The family moved back to Ireland in 1949 where Michael attended the Christian Brothers primary school at Greystones, County Wicklow. Before entering the novitiate in 1960, Michael’s first involvement with the Order was as an aspirant in Saint Joseph’s Juniorate College, Kilcroney, near Bray, where he completed his secondary education. It was when he became a novice that he was given the religious name, Brother Laurence.
Upon completion of his novitiate, Brother Laurence made his first profession of religious vows in 1962, shortly after which he moved to the Scholasticate at Saint John of God Hospital, Stillorgan, County Dublin.
It was while living there that he studied at the Marino Institute of Education, Dublin. Following graduation in 1965, the young Brother joined the community at Saint Augustine’s, Blackrock, County Dublin where he was a member of the teaching staff in the school.
For a period of time, Brother Laurence was Principal in two of the Order’s schools: Islandbridge (1967) and Saint Raphael’s, Celbridge (1968-’71). It was during his time at Islandbridge as Director (1974-77) that he first displayed the leadership skills he has become so well known for, when he had to manage the crisis which ensued when most of the school building at Islandbridge was destroyed by fire.
From 1971 to 1974 Brother Laurence spent most of his time touring Ireland, visiting homes and schools trying to interest young men in the Order as Director of Vocations.
In 1977 Brother Laurence was appointed Prior and Director of Saint John of God Community Services Westville Grove, New Jersey. He was to spend the next six years developing the Order’s services there, while also undertaking study towards an M. Ed degree at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania. Brother Laurence led the initiative that built and funded the Saint John of God Centre on the campus at Westville which is home to a number of the programmes the Order provides there today.
Brother Laurence was first elected Provincial in 1983 and he is currently serving his fifth term in that office. He was Provincial of the Irish Province for three successive terms (1983-1992), when he inspired a renewal process which changed the shape and organisational structure of the services of the Order.
He was elected Provincial again in 2007, during which time he co-led the process which saw the merging of the English and Irish Provinces into one single entity. In the intervening years Brother Laurence served as Director of Provincial Administration (1992-1994 and 1998-2004), when he successfully led the work of the Order in a period of tremendous change. Brother Laurence was also Director of the Order’s Lucena Clinic Services (1994-1995), Saint John of God Hospital and the Cluain Mhuire Service (1995-1998), Saint John of God Kildare Services (2004-2007) and Suzanne House from its foundation in 1986 to 2010.
Brother Laurence is gifted with many leadership skills and has seemingly boundless enthusiasm for everything to do with Saint John of God and the mission and spirituality of the Order. Known as a very hard worker, he has an infectious belief in the future of the Province and its services. All of these qualities combined have made him the principle inspiration behind Saint John of God Hospitaller Ministries which is on the verge of being created.