ADVENTURES OF A PILGRIM, by Don Brebner (289pp, 2020; available from the author at 12 Vantage Place, Omokoroa 3114, price $30). Reviewed by PAT McCARTHY.
In 2019, Rod Orange published his See Judge Act, a New Zealand history of the leadership training movements developed by the Belgian priest (and later cardinal) Joseph Cardijn.
Now one of the notable products of the formation given in the Young Christian Students and Catholic Youth Movement has written his autobiography, covering a lifetime of service in business and in a host of community and Church organisations.
Don Brebner says his motivation was to reach out to the following generations with a “Granddad’s story” to impart some of the Christian values and actions of his day to his 58-plus grand- and great-grandchildren. Now aged 88, he is unequivocal in declaring: “God has been Number One in my life.”
He dedicates the book to the memory of Cardinal Reginald Delargey, who mentored him and many others in the lay apostolate.
Brebner became involved in the See-Judge-Act strategy of Catholic action in the YCS at Sacred Heart College, Auckland, in 1950. He then worked fulltime for the CYM in Auckland diocese (at 10 pounds a week).
In those days the CYM in the diocese had more than 2000 members, male and female, applying the See-Judge-Act process to workplace problems, boy-girl relationships and a range of social issues.
Most of the book is devoted to Brebner’s working life – much of it in marketing for a house-construction company – but he has also put his leadership skills and faith commitment into a surprising variety of church, inter-church, community and social service causes in the Rotorua and Tauranga areas, usually serving in the chair.
“Of all the charities I have tried to support in a hands-on way, Voice For Life has taken more of my time, energy and dedication than any other,” he said. “To stand up for humanity in its most helpless and vulnerable form, the baby in the womb, is the test of our integrity and true worth.”
While the book is primarily aimed at an extended-family readership, the author’s detailed recall of people and places in a section on the CYM (including many photos) a useful complement to Rod Orange’s book.
- Pat McCarthy is founding editor of NZ Catholic