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.”

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Bob Maguire (Wikipedia)

Father Bob Maguire Foundation

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

Respect: Confronting violence and abuse

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has issued its Social Justice Statement for 2022-23 addressing the theme “Respect: Confronting violence and abuse.”

It explains the major issues as follows:

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that “family, domestic and sexual violence is a major national health and welfare issue that can have lifelong impacts for victims and perpetrators. It affects people of all ages and from all backgrounds, but predominantly affects women and children”.

The statistics concerning violence against women and children in Australia are shocking. One woman is killed every nine days by a current or former partner while one in six girls and one in nine boys were physically or sexually abused before age of 15. Some groups are more vulnerable than others.

Apart from physical violence, women and girls with disabilities experience all forms of violence at higher rates than men with disabilities, or people without disabilities. A staggering 65% of women with disabilities report experiencing at least one incident of violence since the age of 15 and women with disabilities are twice as likely as women without disabilities to have experienced sexual violence. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal that young women aged 18-34 were 2.7 times as likely as those aged 35 and over to have experienced intimate partner violence in the 12 months before the 2016 Personal Safety Survey.

Meanwhile more than 10,900 calls were made to elder abuse helplines across Australia in 2017-18. Women outnumbered men among these callers in each state and emotional and financial abuse were the most common types of elder abuse reported. People who identify as LGBTQI+, people living outside major cities, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are also more vulnerable to violence than other groups.

Family and domestic violence is a painful and complex reality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

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Respect: Confronting violence and abuse (Office for Social Justice)

Respect: Confronting violence and abuse (Social Justice Statement 2022-23)