Marist Brothers head office receives a complaint about a Brother

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 16 January 2015)

A man has complained to the Marist Brothers headquarters in Sydney that while he was a student at Maitland Marist Brothers school in the late 1970s he was sexually abused by Marist Brother Donald Brodie Newton during a camping trip.

On 5 October 2014, while the Marist head office was still considerindg the complaint, Brother Donald Brodie Newton, 74, died in Sydney. On 18 October 2014 a notice of his death appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. A Marist website later published a eulogy, regarding Brother Newton, that was given at the funeral.

Donald Newton had spent 56 years as a Marist Brother, working in various Marist schools in New South Wales, Queensland and Canberra.

He was born in Forbes (in the central west of New South Wales), where his family were friendly with the local Marist Brothers. For secondary schooling, he was a boarder with the Marists at St Joseph's College Hunters Hill, Sydney. Thus, from his early teens, he was living with the Marists and absorbing their culture. While he was a boarder, in his mid-teens, he was recruited by the Marists as a future Brother and he then went to live with the Marists at their training institution in Mittagong, NSW, where he completed his secondary education in 1958 and did two further years of training as a Marist Brother. He spent the rest of his life living with Marists and working with young boys.

In the early years of his teaching career, he worked in Marist primary schools in Casino NSW, Hunters Hill NSW (the Villa Maria School), Lidcombe NSW, Dundas NSW, Innisfail QLD, Enoggera QLD and Eastwood NSW.

Next, he became the principal of a Catholic primary school at Lismore, on the NSW north coast.

Moving to junior secondary teaching in 1977 (when he was aged 37), he worked at Marist Brothers Maitland. According to a eulogy given at Newton's funeral in October 2014, he enjoyed his time at Maitland in the late 1970s. An admirer of Brother Newton was quoted as saying:

  • "He [Don Newton] brought a whole new life to the experience of living in the Hunter Valley. He introduced me to the Hunter region. We would go out and boil the billy and enjoy camping trips in the nearby countryside."

Brother Newton later worked with the Marists in schools at Kogarah (Sydney), Petrie (Brisbane) and at Marist Brothers College in Canberra.

In 1989, the Marists gave him a trip to the United States, where (according to the funeral eulogy) he did some pastoral studies, learning how to work with adults.

For the final 16 years of his life, he was the "Chaplain" to staff and students at Marist Champagnat College in Pagewood, Sydney. At the time of his death, he was living with the Marists in their community at Daceyville, Sydney.

Broken Rites has located Donald Newton's birth notice, published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1940. This gave his date of birth as 19 April 1940.

Marist Brother Donald Newton is not to be confused with another "Brother Don Newton" (born a year earlier, in 1939) who belonged to a different religious order in Australia, the De La Salle Brothers.