action-story | 3rd Jul, 2008

Leonard Sheahan: 3 brothers and a sister

The three residents of Glenburn's Centre for Ecology and Spirituality might be Christian Brothers, but it is their sister who keeps the country paradise alive.

ActionStory_Leonard Sheahan (1)The Centre – dedicated to the promotion of a sound spirituality that recognises the ecology of Creation – is nestled in the middle of a green 15-acre property bordered by the quaint Katy Creek, a tributary of the Yea River.
“We call Katy by her first name because we have personalised her,’’ resident Leonard Sheahan says. “We have a very close connection with her. We treat her like a sister and knowing she’s there is a great comfort. The creek sings to me – it’s like music the way the water bubbles over the rocks’’.

And it is not only the three former teachers who have discovered the healing powers of Katy and her surrounds. “Our visitors go down to the creek for quiet time because our Centre is about reflecting on life, the holistic nature of life, and being able to rejuvenate yourself,’’ Leonard says. “There are spots along it that are little havens with some amazing plant life – you could be a million miles away.

“Our only concern is that Katy has stopped running twice in the past two years and she’s probably not as vibrant as she was eight years ago. I don’t think she has got quite as much flow or vitality as she used to. When Katy stops you can almost feel it. She’s very forlorn and she really dies. It has quite a significant impact on us’’.

The Christian Brothers bought the Glenburn property eight years ago after a six month search by Leonard, Trevor Parton and Ian Roberton.

“We probably looked at 300 properties but we knew this was the spot as soon as we saw it. It’s definitely a place of beauty and helps you find a stillness of the interior.

That stillness is very much what we’re asking people to make part of their lives – to escape the hurrying and scurrying of city life’’.

The two houses, made up of seven bedrooms, now accommodate about 500 overnight stays a year. Leonard says the Centre is slowly becoming more sustainable, with the development of vegetable gardens, as well as the inclusion of chickens and fruit trees. “Our visitors stay for a weekend or for a few days mid-week, either as a group or as individuals, but a 10 week sabbatical is also available.

“The 10-week course has a huge impact on people. It’s really life-changing for them in the way they think, live and act. We believe the peace we provide people, plus our hospitality, makes them feel welcome and they’re able to relax. Most people who leave tell us they want to come back’’.

Leonard says that having grown up on the land, the Centre was the perfect way to return to it.
“For me the idea of the Centre came from the chance to understand the beauty and mystery of the world I see around me. Could I find it in suburban Melbourne? Well yes, but it’s much more enriching for me to be here and have my life nourished by being part of this whole magical, mystical community’’.

Written by Daniel Clarke, Environment Victoria, July 2008