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)