Ian Travers-Ball (Brother Andrew) (1928 – 2000) Worker with Mother Teresa
I had the privilege to meet this great soul in Los Angeles in the United States of America in the 1980s. And later spent time with him in the Dominican Republic as well. What a gentle soul, caring, loving and always had time for you no matter what. In a world searching for leadership here one more example of true servant leadership. His words to me one day with his hands outstretched said: “Always be there for the little ones, the weak, the sad, the cripple, the lonely even if all you can do is only be.”
In 1963 Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers. Two years later, Jesuit Father Ian Travers-Ball (Brother Andrew, M.C.) joined the Brothers in 1965 and became their first Superior. The Brothers were officially established as a diocesan congregation in 1967.
Ian Travers-Ball was born in about 1928 at Brighton, Melbourne, Victoria.
He died 4 October 2000 at the ‘Indian Sisters,’ Gore Street, Fitzroy, Victoria.
He was co-founder of the Brothers of the Missionaries of Charity, with Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Houses of the Missionaries of Charity wrote, that ‘In 1963 Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers. Two years later, Jesuit Father Ian Travers-Ball (Brother Andrew, M.C.) joined the Brothers in 1965 and became their first Superior. The Brothers were officially established as a diocesan congregation in 1967.’ – but others declare the Brother Andrew was really the co-founder of the order along with Mother Teresa.
Ian Travers-Ball, Br Andrew, touched the lives of each of us and mine in a special way,it is important that the witness of his whole life speak to all. I, too, have been largely moulded by Brother Andrew by his humour, common sense and idealism in our novitiate and by the advice given in brief meetings In a kernel, Ian showed us all how to live simply and how to be truly simple. This was not something pious. He rejected all forms of showiness and with vehemence never allowed the mantle of guru to be placed on his shoulders. He was a sophisticated man, well versed in the ways of the world with his mother’s charm and compassion and his father’s eye for the fine things of life.
His simplicity was his transparency – he simply made God the main priority of his life. At 23 he fell in love with God and through bad days and good he never took his eyes off God. Ian (Br Andrew) did this so effortlessly that he has been able to cajole all of us to have a shot at doing the same, but always in our own way.
Let Brother Andrew speak for a moment:
“This is the miracle of Jesus present, of the Spirit. It is very
strong. It is the Church everywhere. Human weakness evident?
Yes. But undeniable life and love that has to be pondered in
silence, for it is so easily overlooked. St Luke says of Mary in
the days of her Son’s infancy: ‘She treasured all these things
and pondered them in her heart.’ It is enlightening and freeing
to ponder the things of God.”
There are many hurdles to jump before one can become free enough, not to worry about oneself, what one will wear, how one will survive, how one can be completely free and available to God, and Ian didn’t conceal his own hurdles from us, and how on the really big ones he had to take several run ups before he could get over them. He shared his vulnerability with appealing candour and great Australian humour.
This is not to praise Ian (Br Andrew), it is rather to encourage you and also myself. Ian (Br Andrew) shows us that we really can follow the Lord very closely, that it doesn’t matter what career we follow in life we can be transparent in our priorities, simple in our lifestyle – we can be free to love God. Above all, in some way we all carry Ian’s mantle – there is a real possibility that we can bring some of the Travers-Ball charm, humour and laid back style into our life stories. I suspect its already there – Ian’s magnetism has always been contagious. Ian would laugh but for better or worse it depends on what we do with it, some of his holiness has surely rubbed off on all of us.
“A most humble man, without any pretensions, Br Andrew was ordained as a Jesuit but chose to follow in the work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta by founding and leading the Missionary Brothers of Calcutta from which he retired in the 80’s to concentrate on travelling throughout Australia to proclaim the Gospel of God’s merciful love of the ‘triers’ and the down-and-outs’ and the call of a Christian to unconditionally open his heart to his fellow man irrespective race , colour, creed or orientation. His life exemplifies one of poverty, compassion and simplicity, and the appeal and richness of his personal anecdotes and wisdom demonstrate his commitment to a loving God.”
Pray for me Brother Andrew a small little soul in an ocean of so many others like me.
By Peter Maynier