I first met Rex Cambrey late in 1989. He had just been appointed Business Manager of our Marist Province. His office was based at Templestowe in Melbourne. I was about to head overseas on sabbatical.
For the next three years I would be communicating with Rex by letter, as we didn't have the luxury of email in those days. He in Melbourne, I in London. I remember feeling so dependent on Rex as he was the person who channelled funds to me for my studies. Rex proved to be a magnificent support and guide then, and ever since. As I think back on those years I wonder why our relationship worked so well. There are a number of reasons. Rex had the gift of being an excellent communicator. He listened until he understood. If he didn't understand he would ask questions until he did. Rex enjoyed being Marist. His faith supported his life. He liked the Marist way of living his faith. Rex was lovingly supported by his wife Jan and his family. They were always ready to be invited into his work life.
On Friday 5th April, 2013 at Rex's appreciation dinner twenty three years after he began working with us, we farewelled and thanked him. He spoke about his involvements across those years. You could have heard a pin drop as he spoke. The standing ovation at the close of his address said it all. As I think about Rex now, I believe a key trait he always displays is empathy, an empathy based on the desire to listen first, to assesss how that person is, before moving onto the topic at hand. I find when I am with Rex, albeit in a work related context, I feel I am with 'a companion on the journey' as the song says, in other words, we will solve this together.
Rex meets many people. Showing empathy to us all must demand his energy and patience. I thank you Rex for your selflessness and most especially for your empathy. Marists across the Marist world applaud you. May God bless you and your family in the years ahead.