The family of Father Bob Maguire is likely to be offered a state funeral to honour the charity campaigner and Catholic maverick.
Father Bob passed away at Melbourne’s Cabrini Hospital on Wednesday (April 19) at the age of 88.
In a statement, his family said he “will be sorely missed for his energy and good humour”.
They explained that “His physical and mental health had been deteriorating for some time, but his preference was always to help others rather than consider his own situation.”
“Father Bob was not just a much-loved family member, but was loved by all Australians for what he stood for. He has fought bravely for the underprivileged and homeless all his life. He represented the highest of principles, and he fought to actively live those principles,” they added.
He served as parish priest of Sts Peter & Paul’s Catholic Church in South Melbourne for four decades where he was known for his “larrikin” temperament, charitable works, love for the poor and marginalised, and willingness to challenge church and secular authorities.
He only stepped down after a clash with the Catholic Church hierarchy over its mandate that priests retire at 75.
He eventually reached a compromise that allowed him to remain a priest until he was 77 in 2012 after 50 years of service to the Church.
After his retirement Father Bob continued to work with his charity foundation, which delivers hundreds of free meals each week and operates an outreach program to those in need.
He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for his work helping homeless youth in the Open Family Foundation.
Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli said: “Bob has been a faithful priest of the Catholic Church in Melbourne since his Ordination in 1960, and a fierce friend of the downhearted, the broken and the lost throughout his whole life.”
“Without a doubt, he was the ‘larrikin priest’ who had a great love for Jesus — who also lived with the outcast and the unloved.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described him as an “irrepressibly cheerful champion for all those battling disadvantage,” adding that the nation had lost “a great Australian”.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews remembered Father Bob as “a marvellous person, a man of compassion and faith, integrity and good humour, whose approach sometimes found him at odds with the Catholic Church.”
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