Remembering Fr Bob, the larrikin priest – and YCW chaplain

Melbourne is mourning the passing of Fr Bob Maguire, a priest well-known for his work with the poor in inner city South Melbourne and elsewhere.

Born in 1934, Fr Bob, who was also once chaplain to the Ashburton YCW, died at Cabrini Hospital on 20 April.

During that period, the Ashburton YCW lost 12 of its members, who had all been drafted for military service in Vietnam. He himself joined the Army Reserve at that time, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

Former Melbourne YCW leader, Frank Barber, recalls him as a YCW chaplain who sometimes addressed training weekends at the Maiya Wamba YCW camp.

In 1973, he was appointed parish priest of Sts Peter and Paul Parish in South Melbourne, a position that he made his own until 2012.

In 2003, he and his colleagues created the Father Bob Maguire Foundation to expand and continue his social justice and charitable work.

“Father Bob was not just a much loved family member but was loved by all Australians for what he stood for,” his family said in a statement.

“Despite his high profile in the media, he was always on the job, especially for the disadvantaged families and individuals for whom he had great love and compassion,” the statement said.

“He wanted nobody to be left behind and always saw and believed in the good in people, but he knew that there were many whom he referred to as the unloved and unlovely. These were his real passion.”

“He believed so much in the power of the church to do good. I’m not a crazy church person, I was just drawn in by his energy, just to keep helping people,” commented comedian, Marty Fields. “Anyone who put out a hand to Fr Bob always got something back in it. … all the homeless people know Fr Bob, no-one had a bad word about him …

“His ability to reach beyond his church and put aside the politics of everything, and just say, ‘this is what we’re here for … get out there and get me some more money to put some pencils and papers on the desks of children of homeless people. ‘

“He didn’t worry about ads on TV, or spend any of his money on marketing … it was all word of mouth, all goodwill,” Fiends added.

Church officials also paid tribute with Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli describing him as “a fierce friend of the downhearted, the broken and the lost throughout his whole life.”

“Vale Fr Bob Maguire, priest, pastor, prophet, poet, friend of the poor, clown of God, human being…and a huge influence on my early life who led me to the priesthood,” wrote Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, originally from Melbourne, on Twitter. “Thanks, old friend, now rest in peace…but let the fire in the belly blaze forever.”


Bob Maguire (Wikipedia)

Father Bob Maguire Foundation

Veterans reunite for 50th anniversary of footy premierships (Herald-Sun)

Remembering Fr Chris Warnock

Fr Chris Warnock

This month we farewell Fr Chris Warnock, a former YCW chaplain from the Port Pirie Diocese in South Australia, who died on 3 March 2021 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

All our condolences to his sister, Anne Jennings, brother Matt, both former YCW leaders, and all Chris’s family and relatives.

Watch the beautiful eulogy by Chris’s sister, Claire, (start 15:00) and homily, by Fr Jim Monaghan (32:30) in the video of his funeral mass below.

Below we also share a meaningful remembrance of Chris by Locky, another former YCW leader from Port Pirie.

In memory of Father Chris Warnock

I came to know Father Chris Warnock through the Whyalla Young Christian Workers, particularly after I became engaged to parishioner and YCW member there. The YCW often met at Father Chris’s and I found him easy and witty company, comfortable with the diversity of regular attendees including a surprising number of openly gay people, just as comfortable in their own skin – I came from Port Pirie which had no gay people at all, we only had to deal with the likes of the Solomontown football club.

I went on to become very involved with YCW under Margie Lee’s guidance in ‘Pirie and so dealt with Fr Chris on a couple of levels, particularly as he supported the Whyalla YCW in its critical investigation into the industrial death of my would-be father in law, Les Kemp. Whyalla YCW’s enquiry was in-depth and far reaching, affecting both BHP’s Australian operations and State legislation around dangerous work practices after it was shown that Les Kemp was the third person to die in the role he was “promoted” into.

It should be understood that the teenagers undertaking this review did so with determination and courage in what remains a regional city overwhelmingly dependent on that steelworks as the major provider of jobs and family security. Today’s YCW members would be surprised to know that in their parents’ time, a family man’s response to being put in a life threatening job was to quietly invest in three life insurance policies and just get on with it, hoping to beat the odds as Les did before he died in his early thirties of a work related brain aneurysm.

Whyalla were lucky to have the wider YCW network, absolutely. However, on a more immediate level, they were definitely blessed to be able to rely on the full support and guidance of Father Chris during what became months of discovery, growing awareness, lobbying and change. YCW Whyalla had a real impact on the evolution of how South Australians were to view workplace health and safety expectations.

Writing now, as an adult and a parent of teenagers, it is easy to see how that work would have never progressed to an unforeseen and important success without the unifying help and steady influence of Father Chris in the background. Chris unprepossessingly found space, printing, phone services, encouragement and prompting, and he had the humility of his deep faith to stand back to give young people the full sunshine of the satisfaction they found in helping others in a good cause.

Forty years later I still remember this as work which penetrated where no industrial union or any other mature group I can think of at the time even ventured, let alone made a mark. And a key person I can point to in demonstrating the real core value of selflessness in getting people to turn up, making coffees and saying “alright, what’s next?”, is Father Chris Warnock.

Much, much later, “to the amazement of everyone including me,” as Chris himself said, I was fortunate enough to snare someone far too good for me and marry them, with Chris doing us the honour of officiating at St Laurence’s one beautiful day in Adelaide over 30 years ago. More recently, Chris also christened our two children, Louise and Laurence back at the Cathedral in Port Pirie, despite the evident effects of Parkinson’s, which he explained prior to proceedings with great humour.

In between times, we also caught up with Chris when visiting our farming friends in Caltowie around the time he had to give up driving and move into gofers, the first of which he was already cheerfully personalising whilst still using the car (much to the concern of Jamestown locals).

Quite a few times since visiting him at home there, I have reflected on how solitary a life in God’s  rural service must be. That was never a complaint of Chris’ – nothing was – and he had his own ways of dealing with it: Certainly if you said you were having a barbie anywhere within earshot, you’d be wanting to bank on a couple of snags for Father Chris.

I have always respected and admired Father Chris as a straight talking and learned fellow traveller, keenly aware of our shared humanity and shortcomings despite the great differences in our lives. In the all too few times we have been able to see Chris since his illness took hold, he remained droll, positive and accepting of his terrible affliction.

Whilst his suffering is finally over, my wife Evelyn and I will continue to miss the Father Chris Warnock we came to know so many years ago. We are grateful for his time among us and we trust that God has at last given him true peace and heavenly contentment.

Vale, Chris. Say g’day to Les from me.

With our love and affection,

Locky and Evelyn.

Peter Robinson, a champion fundraiser

Peter Robinson

“Activist priest Father Peter James Robinson, awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his outstanding work with people with disabilities, was a shrewd, down to earth, very Australian Catholic priest,” writes Dom Dimattina in an obituary published in The Age.

“Sympathising much with those on the margins, rules and regulations never sat well with him.

“Throughout his early work years, first at the taxation department, and later with the Department of the Army in Canberra, Robbo was inspired by leaders in the YCW movement. Eventually, he went to work full time for the YCW.”

“At 23, he decided to become a priest, going to St Bede’s in Mentone to study Latin and prepare for his eight years at the Werribee and then Glen Waverley seminaries,” Fr Di Matinna writes.

“In 1970, while serving as chaplain to a large congregation of nuns at the Good Shepherd Convent (at the site now occupied by Chadstone shopping centre), he was given an additional post as chaplain to the Catholic Deaf of Victoria, a role he embraced with gusto. He soon became proficient in Auslan, the sign language used by many in the hearing-impaired community.

“By 1972, I had invited Robbo to become a member of the Lions Club at the Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market of Melbourne, which Pat Lamanna and I had established that year. This launched him into a new and completely different world.

“He was soon overwhelmed by the spontaneous generosity of the thousands of daily users of the wholesale market – growers, wholesalers and retailers alike. They, too, quickly warmed to this jovial cleric with a captivating personality who moved easily among them in the early hours of the morning, canvassing support for the Lions’ many charitable projects.

During this time, with the support of the Lions Club, he began his famous antique auctions, conducted by his great friend, Graham Joel (head of the notable auction house, Leonard Joel). Robbo’s novel idea was to write to hundreds of parishes, convents and brothers’ houses throughout Victoria, as they held many beautiful items of 19th century antiques.

“He invited these custodians to send antiques they did not need to him, to be auctioned to raise funds for the hearing-impaired community he served. The significant funds raised through this initiative allowed Robbo to fulfil a burning ambition to establish a dedicated centre for the hearing-impaired; what would become the John Pierce Centre for the Deaf, in Elsternwick. The grateful hearing-impaired community of Victoria always responded warmly to Robbo’s energetic advocacy on their behalf.”


Dom Di Mattina OAM, Cheeky, much-loved priest a champion fundraiser (The Age)

A reunion of former Melbourne priests and YCW chaplains in 2014.
Back row: Val Noone, Terry O’Neill, Bill Gill, Mick Shadbolt, Mick Croagh, Frank Hornby, Pat Gibson, Kerry Cronan, John McCarthy.
Front row: Dan Drew, Peter Robinson, Mick Cogan, Brian Harold, Noel Oliver, Mick Morgan. 

Frank ‘Charlie’ Hornby remembered

This month we note the passing of former Melbourne YCW leader and chaplain, Frank “Charlie” Hornby, who died in Canberra on 12 September surrounded by his wife, Geraldine, and their children Patrick, Simon, daughter in law, Sarah, and grandchildren. (Daughter Mary died in 2007.)

Prior to entering the diocesan seminary, Corpus Christi College, Werribee, Frank was already a member of Diocesan Executive in Melbourne.

In 1957, he was one of a record number of former YCW members who became seminarians there.

“The names I recall are Kevin Drill, Frank Hornby, Kevin Power and Peter Robinson,” writes Val Noone. “These four, and especially Peter Robinson and Frank Hornby, took care to instruct young school leavers such as myself in the virtues of YCW.

“I recall joining a study group on Catholic Action with some of them and Thomas Furey where we worked through Challenge to Action, a collection of Cardijn’s speeches. The one that stands out in my memory is entitled, ‘The hour of the working class’.

“Speaking in 1948, Cardijn outlined the characteristics of modern industrial working conditions and argued that ‘the workers’ problem’ (Cardijn’s phrase for all the issues facing the industrial working class) had to be taken seriously by Christians and that it existed separately of agitation by communists and socialists. Studying such texts in the company of former YCW leaders was a good school for me.”

Mgr Frank Marriott from Sandhurst Diocese recalled that he met Frank Hornby in 1965 through their mutual interest in YCW.

He “was optimistic and thoughtful and respectful of the country man,” Mgr Frank recalled.

“In time we both had diocesan responsibilities for YCW and in those days there were four full time chaplains from Melbourne serving the National movement as well as the Archdiocese…..How times have changed,” he added.

CCA president, Wayne McGough noted that Frank succeeded Paul Willy as Melbourne chaplain after spending time at Highett, which produced so many legendary YCW leaders.


Francis Kevin Hornby Funeral Service (Gatecrasher Media)

Remembering Brazil’s bishop of the poor

Pedro Casaldaliga

“The ‘Avanguardistes’ and the ‘Fejocistes’ and their songs helped initiate me with an intuition or ideal of sacred struggle,” recalled Catalan-born Brazilian Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga Pla in his 1975 book “Yo creo en la justicia en la esperanza” (I believe in justice and hope).

He was paying tribute to the members of the Catalan jocist or “Fejocista” movement, the precursor of the Catalan JOC, who helped inspire his commitment to the poor.

By the time of his death on 8 August, Bishop Casaldáliga had indeed become known in his adopted homeland of Brazil as a “bishop of the poor.”

“At home, we spoke of Gil-Robles and the CEDA,” Casaldáliga wrote, referring to General Franco’s rival for power and Gil-Robles’ political party, the Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights. “In the parish, we talked of Fejocism and Avant-guardism,” the latter a progressive Catalan artistic movement.

Born in Balsareny in 1928, Casaldáliga became a Claretian priest and missionary, who arrived in Brazil during the period of military dictatorship in 1968.

He rapidly became known as a defender of human rights and as a liberation theologian, bringing him swiftly into conflict with the government.

Made a bishop by Paul VI in 1971 and appointed as prelate of Sao Felix, he quickly began to challenge the Amazonian agricultural companies, accusing them of using slave labour.

He continued this commitment to the rural poor throughout his long episcopal career.

“He made the church realize that we cannot abandon the poor,” Archbishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, told Catholic News Service.

“He himself was poor; he lived like his followers, in poverty,” said Steiner. “I know this because I lived with him for seven years in a very simple house in the middle of the community. He lived with those he helped, with the poor.”

Dubbing him a “prophet,” the Brazilian bishops’ Indigenous Missionary Council said that in his simple gestures, Casaldáliga knew better than anyone how to “shelter the little ones of God.”

“It was decades of commitment to the people’s struggles, defending and amplifying the voice of the indigenous, the peasants, the blacks, the women and the most forgotten. Since its inception almost 50 years ago, CIMI has been inspired by Bishop Pedro’s example of prophetic life,” said the Indigenous Missionary Council, using its Portuguese acronym, CIMI. “His life was a gift and grace for all of us.”

One of the bishop’s favourite sayings was “If in doubt, side with the poor,” according to many who spoke to CNS.


Pedro Casaldáliga, ‘bishop of the poor,’ dies in Brazil at 92 (National Catholic Reporter/Catholic News Service)

Pedro Casaldáliga, Yo creo en la Justicia y en la Esperanza

Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga Plá, C.M.F. (Catholic Hierarchy)


Casaldà / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Vale Fr Mick Wheeler

Fr Mick Wheeler

This month we say goodbye to Fr Mick Wheeler, a former Melbourne YCW fulltime secretary, who later became a priest.

Aged 82, he passed away at Epworth Hospital in Melbourne on Tuesday 11 August 2020.

“Mick came through the Alphington YCW and worked in the early 60’s as full time Melbourne YCW Secretary,” recalled Bill Armstrong AO.

“He embodied the Cardijn methodology of see, judge act and this stayed with him all through his life,” Bill added.” He was interested in everyone he met and was always ready to have a chat.

“Mick was humble and down to earth and really cared for people.  For more than 30 years he was the much loved Parish Priest of the very aptly named Parish of Wheelers Hill.”

Former ACI chairperson, Kevin Vaughan noted that he had first met Mick Wheeler in the YCW 60 years ago.

“I can always recall him working in the YCW office,” Kevin said. “He often told the story about Cardijn’s visit to Australia in 1966.

“Cardijn visited the seminary and spoke to the seminarians. Later, when he was sitting at the dinner table, Mick sat beside him with his arm around the back of his chair and he was told off for getting so personal with a giant of the church. May he rest in peace.”

After completing his seminary studies, Fr Mick was ordained a priest at St Patrick’s Cathedral, East Melbourne on 22 May 1971.

He then served as Assistant Priest at Belmont (December 1971 – March 1972), Collingwood (1972), Jordanville (1975), Manifold (1978) and Newport (1979). In 1981, he was appointed as Chaplain to the Repatriation Hospital, Heidelberg.

In 1986, he became Parish Priest of the newly established St Justin’s parish at Wheelers Hill, where he served with distinction for 30 years until his retirement in 2016. Parishioners remembered him as “a wonderful, kind, selfless man who gave so much to St Justins parish and the community.”

It was no doubt Fr Mick who arranged for the mural behind the altar to display the cross and the wheat of the YCW badge. It provided a fitting backdrop to his funeral service.

St Justin's

RIP Lesley Campbell

Lesley Campbell

30 June 2020 witnessed the funeral in Adelaide of former YCW full time worker Lesley Campbell. In a true sign of our times, it was conducted online due to the Coronavirus.

I first met Lesley when she worked for the Adelaide YCW in the late 1970s and was struck by how friendly she was and how she always made an effort to get to know the young workers of the movement. Through her YCW work Lesley met and later married Michael Campbell, who became our National President.

Lesley and Michael went on to start a family with four children, Ruth, Robert, Duncan and Clare, being born and raised by the couple. I knew Duncan and Clare very well later when they became key leaders in the YCS and later YCW. They both made significant leadership contributions to those movements, very much in the example and tradition of their parents.

After YCW Lesley became a nurse and for many years worked with the care and disciplined approach needed to be good at the profession. This approach was appreciated by all who benefited from her care.

In 2000 Lesley became the diocesan collaborator for the Adelaide YCW. I was the group collaborator to Salisbury YCW and often sought her advice and leadership. She was patient and kind toward me when I struggled for a while with that role.  I recall how she took a great interest in the campaign to welcome and provide services for young worker refugees from Afghanistan and I often attended the YCW-refugee football and cricket matches with her.

Lesley also introduced the young refugees to the Adelaide habit of eating ‘bung fritz’ which used to make us laugh at times. She encouraged the promotion of friendships among young workers and there were many successful YCW social events and training weekends I attended with her.

I share the great sorrow that the family is feeling at the loss of Lesley. She truly lived the Jocist life and inspired us by her example. Michael is a member of the Australian Cardijn Institute and we all extend our affection and solidarity to him and his family.

Mark Ager

Click here to read the eulogy and service written by Michael Campbell:

Lesley Anne Campbell (1954 – 2020)

Lesley Anne Campbell Funeral Service from TBS Productions on Vimeo.

Remembering Mike Bowden

Mike Bowden

Former Richmond footballer and recent PhD graduate from Yarra Theological Union and the University of Divinity, Mike Bowden, died on Holy Saturday, 11 April this year, after a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). 

Bowden’s doctoral thesis, entitled Searching Altyerre to Reveal the Cosmic Christ: A contribution to the dialogue between the ancient Arrernte imaginary and Christianity, is now being prepared for publication.

The thesis aims to show the continuing relevance of the “Altyerre”, which can be translated as dreaming, dreamtime, abiding event, creator or God, has continuing relevance not only for the local Arrernte people. Indeed, the Altyerre helped sustain the people in the face of the invasion by European colonistsn which threatened the Arrernte people with extinction, Bowden writes..

“The Arrernte have constructed an imaginary: a deeply structured foundational description of reality, defined in the thesis as Altyerre-Catholicism,” Bowden writes.

“Altyerre-Catholicism in the way it is lived is a gift to the Catholic Church and to the world,” he writes. “And in a manner beyond even the best of charity known to Christians – despite Invasion, dispossession, marginalisation, impoverishment, incarceration, and the sad dismissal of their gifts by White Australia – they continue to offer this richness to anyone and everyone who walks up to their open front door.”

Mike Bowden was raised as a Catholic in Melbourne, attending St Kevin’s College, Toorak, before entering Corpus Christi Seminary. However, after two years he decided that the ordained priesthood was not his path. 

He married his wife, Judy, in 1969, the same year he won a VFL premiership with Richmond.

Mike and Judy had six sons, Sean, Rhett, Kane, Joel, Patrick and Charlie and one daughter Majella.

In 1983 the family moved to Pukatja, an Aboriginal community of Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara people on the South Australian and Northern Territory border, about 150 kilometres from Uluru. There he taught at the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic College in Alice Springs founding the Ntyarlke Unit; before moving to Tangentyere Council as community development manager.

He graduated with his PhD in February 2020, just two months before his death.

“A recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia, a life member of the Australian Labor Party and the Richmond Football Club, (Mike Bowden) was archetypically Australian; a sporting hero; with sporting hero children; he had friendship and respect Australia-wide; a beautiful wife who balanced and loved him in every way; around him were political and community leaders who respected and followed his guidance,” 


The circle continues for Dr Bowden (Vox/Southern Cross)

Mike Bowden: Defined by decency, not strength (Sydney Morning Herald)

Mike Bowden at his PhD graduation (Vox)

Visit by Fr Mike Deeb OP

Fr Mike Deeb OP

Our first international visitor this year will be Fr Mike Deeb O.P., a former YCS chaplain in South Africa and also former chaplain to the International YCS and International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS).

Fr Mike is now working for the Dominican Congregation as their General Promoter of Justice and Peace and their Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Join us for an informal mass and coffee at Catholic Theological College, Melbourne on Thursday 23 January from 2.30-4.00pm.

Please call Stefan Gigacz 0491 077 033 or email to confirm your participation so we can arrange coffee.

More about Fr Mike here:

Download poster here:

Mike Deeb poster

Bishop Angelelli beatified

Bishop Angelelli marches

A former JOC chaplain, Bishop Enrique Angelelli, and three companions, Franciscan Fr Carlos Murias, French priest Fr Gabriel Longueville, and lay catechist Wenceslao Pedernera, who were all martyred by the military during Argentina’s military dictatorship, were beatified in April this year.

Bishop Angelelli co-founded the JOC in the Diocese of Cordoba in the late 1940 with Jose Serapio “Pepe” Palacio, later the first lay collaborator for the IYCW. In fact, Pepe Palacio was also martyred six months before Bishop Angelelli, when he “disappeared” in December 1975 as part of Operation Condor, the CIA program to eliminate activists and trade unionists in Latin America.

Read more:

Angelelli, first martyr of Vatican II (La Croix International)

Enrique Angelelli (Cardijn Priests)

Pepe Palacio (Cardijn Pioneers)