Transcript - State Funeral Service for Father Bob Maguire AM RFD

Transcript for the recording of State Funeral Service for Father Robert (Bob) John Maguire AM RFD. The service was held at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday 5 May 2023.

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[Onscreen text: State Funeral Service Father Robert (Bob) John Maguire AM RFD 14 September 1934 – 19 April 2023.]

[Very Reverend Father Werner Utri stands at a lectern in front of a congregation of people in St Patrick’s Cathedral.]

[Onscreen text: Very Reverend Werner Utri, Dean St Patrick’s Cathedral.]

Father Werner Utri: Good morning and welcome to the State Funeral Service for Father Robert John Maguire, lovingly known to all of us as Father Bob. My name is Werner Utri and I'm the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral. And on behalf of myself and Archbishop Peter Comensoli, I extend to all of you here present and those joining us from afar, a very warm welcome this morning.

Today we gather to celebrate the extraordinary life of Father Bob, a people's priest, a patron of the unloved, and a treasured comrade and friend to all.

I would now like to welcome Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Di Kerr who will welcome us to country.

[Father Werner Utri moves away as Aunty Di Kerr moves to the lectern.]

[Onscreen text: Aunty Di Kerr OAM, Wurundjeri Elder.]

Aunty Di Kerr: I honor my ancestors and my Elders, and the pay homage to this sacred ground that we're on.

I respectfully acknowledge Father Bob and his family, and I acknowledge you all and I pay my respects to your ancestors, Elders, and families. It's an honor and a privilege to be here today for our friend Father Bob.

I've been lucky for numerous years to have known him and he always had that cheeky smile and always says something to make you laugh. And he was true. He spoke the truth.

He looked after community. It didn't matter where you came from. He showed respect to me. He called me mother, which is very endearing to me and I'm gonna miss that, but he looked after the vulnerable. He never wavered from that. And I know he did that, right up to his passing. So I'm very honored to be able to do this welcome.

Please look after each other. Remember him well. Remember his brilliant smile and remember that he's always there for us. So, Father Bob, may you fly high with your creator.

Wominjeka yearmann koondee biik Wurundjeri balluk.

Thank you.


[Aunty Di leaves the lectern. Father Werner Utri returns to the lectern.]

Father Werner Utri: Thank you, Aunty Di. I'd also like to acknowledge a number of people here with us today.

First and foremost, Bob's family, including his nieces, Peter, Anice, Shauna and their extended families, and his many friends and colleagues.

I acknowledge also, the many dignitaries who join us today to pay their respects to Father Bob.

Mr Anthony Howard, husband of her Excellency, the Honorable Linda Dessau Governor of Victoria, who is unable to be here today as she's in the United Kingdom representing the people of Victoria at King Charles III’s Coronation.

The Honorable Daniel Andrews Premier of Victoria and Mrs Catherine Andrews.

The Honorable Bill Shorten representing the Acting Prime Minister and Mrs Chloe Shorten.

The Honorable Ben Carroll Minister for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Manufacturing Sovereignty, Minister for Employment and Minister for Public Transport.

The Honorable Shaun Leane President of the Legislative Assembly.

Former Premiers of Victoria, The Honorable Steve Bracks, The Honorable Jeff Kennett.

Mr John Pesutto, Leader of the Opposition.

Mr David Southwick, Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Senator David Van representing the Federal Leader of the Opposition

Members of the Victorian and Australian parliaments, former members of Parliament, distinguished guests, one and all.

To begin, for those who are able, I ask you to please stand and join me in the Australian National Anthem, which we led by Kristina Lang and Christopher Watson.

[Congregation stands.]

[Onscreen text: Kristina Lang and Christopher Watson.]

Cantors Kristina Lang and Christopher Watson[sing]: Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are one and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Father Werner Utri: Please be seated.

[Congregation sits.]

Father Werner Utri: Thank you, Kristina and Christopher.

We gather together this morning to honor Father Bob and to share our fond memories of him. I'd like to invite The Honorable Daniel Andrews Premier of Victoria, to offer a tribute on behalf of the people of Victoria.

[Father Werner Utri moves away from the lectern. Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria moves to the lectern.]

[Onscreen text: The Honourable Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria.]

Premier Daniel Andrews: First of all, ladies and gentlemen, can I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of this land and pay my personal respects to their Elders past and present. And on your behalf, can I thank Auntie Di for her Welcome to Country. Your Grace, Archbishops, I thank you for hosting us here today. Reverend Fathers. There's a very long list of other dignitaries that I'm supposed to read out, but I can hear Father Bob simply saying to me, ‘get on with it’. So, in his honor, and I don't think anyone will be offended if I do just that.

Friends, in our modern world, community can be hard to find and even harder to maintain. But Father Robert John Maguire didn't just find a community, he built one.

Father Bob understood intrinsically that you had to go to where the people are and where the need is greatest. His were the ‘unloved and the unlovely’ as he put it. Those without a voice or without a home.

Bob knew that its only by doing the work, by showing up day after day, week after week, year after year, that you have any hope of achieving lasting change. And so, he took his sermons to the streets, he gathered his flock in food banks and community halls.

To see Bob in action was to witness something akin to a biblical scene - if Romans had been set in the back streets of South Melbourne. He would move through a crowd greeting every person he encountered, with a ‘g ’day cobber’ and an outstretched hand.

Anyone who turned up on his doorstep got whatever they needed in that moment. And Bob always knew exactly what people needed - even when they might not have known themselves.

A comforting hand on your shoulder, a hug, a hot meal, a sense of hope and belonging. The most simple of human interactions – connection - but one that so many are deprived of. He truly was the people's priest.

Father Bob's understanding of poverty and addiction was not merely theoretical. Growing up, money was tight in the Maguire house, with wages more often spent on drink than food. Deprivation seeped into his bones like the Melbourne winter, and life could very easily have turned out differently for the young man from Thornbury.

Orphaned by 15, and with his siblings away at war, a teenage Bob was left to fend for himself. And yet, despite the hardship of those early years or perhaps because of those hardships, he found a pathway out.

Bob won a scholarship from the RSL to attend Christian Brothers College in St Kilda and from there, training for the priesthood.

In 1973, the Bishop of Melbourne enlisted Bob to revive the fortunes of the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul in South Melbourne. The parish most definitely needed work, and somebody who wasn't afraid to deal with all that that might involve.

Of his early years in South Melbourne, Bob said ‘rather than minister to the community’, the reverse was true. This, I think, illustrates the humility of the man. Someone who guided, and was guided, by those around him. Someone who wasn't afraid to admit when he didn't have all the answers - but was always willing to listen and learn. And someone who understood that we are stronger united, than split by division.

In the words of one of his attendees, ‘outside everybody would fight, but Bob's church was neutral territory where everyone was welcome, people could talk and get help. He didn't judge, he just did what needed to be done’.

Bob's support for those on the fringes came not from a place of pity or charity, but one of respect for their strength shown in the face of adversity. As he said of his community, ‘the poor matter because not only are they the majority, they're also the treasure trove of wisdom and resilience. The elites might have everything, but they know nothing’.

Father Bob's brand of Catholicism never wavered, even when it might have fallen out of favor with the establishment. Through 4 decades in South Melbourne and then through his Foundation, Bob showed that a commitment to justice provides more moral clarity than piety ever could.

That your neighborhood is your church, and that people need faith in humanity, as well as faith in God. Bob's was a religion of sticking together through adversity, of sharing what little you may have with someone who has even less.

He reached the interfaith, the lapsed faith, and those with no faith at all. But Father Bob didn't just believe in compassion for its own sake. His form of kindness wasn't always quiet or polite, and nor should it have been.

If he thought the church had overstepped - he told them. If he thought the media had got it wrong - he told them too. If he, on the rare occasion, thought that government had made a bad decision…


...he was most certainly not afraid to let me - or them - have a piece of his mind.

He didn't suffer fools, nor did he allow injustice or hypocrisy to stand. For Bob, it wasn't about being right, it was about standing up for what was right. In his own words, ‘all saints were rebels’, and so he pushed on doing what resonated and what he knew worked.

When Father Bob delivered his final sermon to his congregation, more than 1000 people packed into his South Melbourne church. They spilled out beyond the building walls, much like his ideas and energy. Because Bob couldn't be contained in a chapel. Just as he couldn't be defined by a single role.

He started outreach programs for people experiencing homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. He set up a boxing gym, a boarding house, a clinic, a farm, and co-founded the Open Family Foundation. He established the Father Bob Maguire Foundation. Caring for the community by the community; aiming to give all kids a fair start in life and everyone a fair go.

Father Bob might have retired from the church, but he never retired his voice. Equally comfortable on radio, television, social media, or with a megaphone in hand. Bob didn't mind chipping in a comment whenever, wherever, and even if he perhaps, had never been asked, on all manner of topics and subjects. He had a voice, he spoke, and when he spoke, he said something - all too rare in our modern world.

It was Goliath on one side and Bob with his slingshot on the other. Fiercely defending those who needed it most, most recently on Twitter, right up until the end.

Bob showed us the bounds of what's possible when you approach life with an open heart and an open mind.

He showed us that we all have more to learn – always. And that sometimes the greatest lesson someone can teach us is about the strengths that we ourselves possess. Most of all, he demonstrated time and again, that compassion should never be mistaken for weakness, and that hope always wins.

Our state is better, fairer, because of him.

To his family, and all who loved him and worked with him. Our sincere condolences.

And on behalf of the people of Victoria, thank you Father Bob. Thank you for everything.


[Daniel Andrews Premier of Victoria moves away from the lectern. Father Werner Utri moves to the lectern.]

Father Werner Utri: Thank you, Premier. I'd now like to invite Father Bob's niece, Peta Knights, on behalf of the family to pay a tribute.

[Father Werner Utri moves away from the lectern. Peta Knights moves to the lectern.]

[Onscreen text: Peta Knights.]

Peta Knights: Thank you. There's been a lot of words spoken and written about Bob, the priest and social activist, the man of God, and the man of the people. But as his niece, I'd like to say just a few words about Bob, our uncle, or as we always called him Uncle Bobby.

My mother Eileen was Bob's sister. She the eldest in the family and he the youngest of 5 children born to James and Annie. Family life was hard for the Maguire’s.

It was a life dominated by Bob's alcoholic father with all the consequent deprivations, above and over, those of the era. Tragically, Bob lost both his parents and his beloved sister Kathleen by the age of 15.

I can't imagine the pain those losses caused such a young boy, but perhaps they made him into the man he became. The one that we all loved. Following his mother's death, Bob was cared for by his sister Eileen and by his brother Jimmy, until he entered Corpus Christi Seminary at the age of 18.

When we were young, one of our greatest treats was to visit Bob at the seminary in Werribee, where we would all enjoy family picnics and games in the beautiful grounds.

Bob was always great fun and kept us laughing with his antics. One of the most important times in all of our lives was the occasion of Bob's Ordination. The family, especially his brother Jimmy and sister Eileen, were so proud of him.

It was a time of great celebration. Mum and Jimmy's wife, Aunty Betty designed his first set of vestments and I remember Mum sewing them on her little Singer sewing machine.

We children weren't allowed within 6 feet of the garments in case we put our sticky fingers on them.

Bob was such a huge presence in our family. His arrivals at family gatherings always followed the same pattern. He was always the last to arrive and when he did - he was always very loud.

He would start calling out to us the second he stepped out of his car. ‘Father's here! Father's here!’ he would call, and we would all have to rush out to greet him. He did love a bit of attention.


Bob was very generous with his time, despite the fact that he was such a busy man. Over the years, he performed 16 family weddings, countless baptisms and 4 funerals. For my parents Eileen and Jim, my sister Kerry, and my niece Donna.

His capacity for love and his empathy in times of trouble knew no bounds and we are extremely grateful for that. He's being there for the family in the best and worst of times and was very special to all of us.

In all recent times, my sisters Anice and Shauna and I, would take Bob out for lunch at his favorite place, the tea house overlooking the beach at Rickett's Point. Bob always ordered the same thing - fish and chips - and he would only eat half of it, carefully wrapping the rest to take home to his beloved dog, Frankalina.

They were great days when we could just relax and catch up on all the family goings on. He was always so interested to hear how our children and grandchildren were doing.

Sadly, Bob's health began to fail last year, and he was admitted to hospital in December 2022. Both his physical and mental health deteriorated to a point where we were advised he would need 24-hour nursing care.

It was a terribly difficult time, because of course, he just wanted to go home. However, he did settle in at Justin Villa home for retired priests where he received exceptional loving care from Nikki and her staff and he really enjoyed the company of old friends, some of whom he had known for over 60 years.

Right up to the end, he liked to look on ‘the bright side of life’, as the song goes. And in fact, a nurse at Cabrini told me that he was singing just a short time before his sudden death.

I'd like to thank you all so much for gathering here today to honor and celebrate Bob. We, his family feel very privileged to have been a part of this beautiful man's life and we are so proud of what he achieved in helping those in our community who needed it most.

We will miss him.

So, to finish, on behalf of everyone here Bob, and indeed every Victorian, I say thank you and farewell. And on behalf of your family, I'll use the words you said to me so many times ‘we'll meet again, my dear, ta-ta, ta-ta’.


[Peta Knights moves away from the lectern. Father Werner Utri returns to the lectern.]

Father Werner Utri: Thank you Peta for those thoughts and memories. Frank O'Connor will now offer a tribute on behalf of the Father Bob Maguire Foundation and its family and friends.

[Father Werner Utri moves away from the lectern. Frank O’Connor moves to the lectern.]

[Onscreen text: Frank O’Connor, The Father Bob Maguire Foundation.]

Frank O’Connor: It's a difficult task to try to encapsulate the impact Father Bob has had on my life over 43 years of being an active participant, a supporter, and an advisor. For his work over all those years, including the decades he spent at his beloved South Melbourne parish.

But it's even more difficult to adequately assess the effect he had on so many other people, local, statewide, even Australia-wide. We do know, however, that he has left a wonderful legacy, not just in what he did through his personal efforts, but what he did to inspire others to do similar things.

Father Bob was a man who was universally loved and admired. He believed in the ethos of the church into which he was ordained 63 years ago, which was then under the influence of the Second Vatican Council.

That was when the church wanted to move away from the clerically dominated view of the world. ‘Flattening the model’ as Bob was one to say. Reaching out and embedding itself in local communities.

He didn't want liturgy to be a spectator sport. Father Bob's Sunday sermons were usually a translation of that week's gospel, but with the current affairs or local overlay. They were in effect a set of messages about how we should live our lives as a local community and more broadly, consistent with the gospel message.

Father Bob was fond of snappy phrases and he had a memorable turn of phrase that ensured he was a popular media figure. He intuitively knew that media coverage was a great way to get his message out there, but it wasn't just his comfort in front of a camera or behind a microphone - it was his demonstrably genuine manner.

So Father Bob taught us, and so many others in communities and organisations far and wide. It's about us being inclusive. Us ‘insiders’ being there for the ‘outsiders’, seeing the good in others, especially the marginalised and the disenfranchised, and creating a sense of belonging for everyone and anyone.

His years in South Melbourne, especially through the 1980s, saw numerous initiatives such as a halfway house staffed by volunteers from the parish to look after young people who were at risk because of poor housing options or substance abuse.

This morphed into the Open Family Foundation. Bob encouraged a roster of parishioners to provide a presence in the presbytery, answering the door and phone and giving out food and vouchers.

The parish became a place and a community, not just for the believers, but for anyone in need and anyone who wanted to help. This work became the Emerald Hill Mission and the Parish Open House, which still to this day provide meals and companionship at the back of the presbytery and via its mobile van for anybody - no questions asked and no judgments made.

But it's not just about the food. It's about the connection with, and acceptance of people, and making them feel part of something no matter their circumstances. Father Bob himself was a regular presence at many of these occasions providing that genuine social connectedness for these people.

There were many other initiatives, but Father Bob didn't stop at those first few successes, he wanted more. So, the Father Bob Maguire Foundation was formed in 2003. The fact that those predecessor organisations continue to deliver is testament to a priest who not only understood the ‘Vatican 2’ message, but who went out and did something about it, and inspired others to do likewise.

Thanks to Father Bob's inspiration, his foundation continues to provide a significant pantry and meal service and other programs in the local area as well as supporting other organisations doing similar things.

He was often described as a ‘revolutionary’ and a ‘rat-bag’. But his self-description as ‘orthodox and unconventional’ is just as accurate, but sometimes it is hard to comprehend how a young lad from an impoverished upbringing, with a drunken father, orphaned at a young age, has ended up having a State Funeral here in this magnificent cathedral.

He might have argued that he wanted as few interactions as possible with ‘head office’ as he called it. But this celebration is what he deserves after 63 years as a priest, preacher, raconteur, rebel, but mostly as a doer and an inspiration to so many people. It was possibly his struggle as a child that taught him the need for empathy for those less well-off and those who are otherwise considered outsiders.

But he is also loved and admired by the rich and famous, the powerful and the influential. That love and admiration says something important about the Australian character and our famed sense of fairness.

It says that the ‘haves’ will respond to the call to assist the ‘have-nots’ where that call is made by someone like Father Bob, someone who could put a spark to the innate kindling within those who believe in a fair go.

He intuitively knew how to tap into skills and resources - but never for himself - only ever to improve a lot of those who needed help and support. He had empathy in spades for the unloved and the unlovely and for those who are doing it tough. He once said in relation to one young person, but I know he meant it more generally, that if that person reached the stage of dying alone in the gutter with nothing, they wouldn't be able to say that nobody had cared for them.

His passion was to make the world a fairer place. The late Father Ted Kennedy once used an expression in relation to somebody else, but I think it fits Father Bob perfectly; ‘He has swallowed the gospel whole’.

What made him special and so loved was that he lived it. The base metal of the gospels may have been the source of the tools hewn by Father Bob, but he dipped them in humor and irreverence to make them more effective. As he said, as ‘weapons of mass instruction’.

We know he is done so much and has inspired so many others to follow that path. The world is a better place because of his work, but as Father Bob would say, ‘there is still much to be done and we have such little time to achieve it’.

That's why you would've wanted the ongoing support and commitment of governments, philanthropists, businesses, and the general public - so that the work he commenced and inspired can continue.

There have been some suggestions that there ought to be a memorial to Father Bob. A lovely idea and some thought will be put into this in due course.

But for those of us who've worked closely with him for decades and for those who volunteer to continue his work, the best memorial we can have will be the continuation of his essential work with those in society who are doing it tough.

As he said, on many occasions, ‘nobody should be left behind’.

Time for you, Father Bob, to rest an eternal peace and may your messages and inspiration over the years continue to drive us and the broader community to get on with that work.


[Frank O’Connor leaves the lectern. Father Werner Utri returns to the lectern.]

Father Werner Utri: Thank you, Frank. I'd now like to invite John Safran to offer and share some final words and memories of his friend, Father Bob.

[Father Werner Utri leaves the lectern. John Safran walks up and stands at the lectern.]

John Safran: Hello. I spent so much time with Father Bob over 20 years, I feel I can auto-generate an AI chat between him and me regarding today:

‘Bob, you're dead. Do you want a State Funeral?’



‘Why not?’

‘Oh, I'm not sure about the state and the church colluding in matters spiritual, it worries me. I want a Tibetan sky burial where they take you up the mountain and you're eaten by the birds’

‘Or I could push you out to sea on an iceberg?’

‘Oh yes, I'd like that!’

‘But Bob, a State Funeral because it’s such a rare honor, will really annoy your enemies’.


‘So it'll be like, needless to say, I had the last laugh’.

And he'd go:

‘Hmm, enticing, but still no’.

And then I'd say:

‘You always said there's no ‘you and me’, there's only ‘we’. And the ‘great we’ - all the people who loved - need a chance to come together and say goodbye. And they're not gonna fit on top of that mountain in Tibet’.

And he'd go:

‘Oh, go on, have the State Funeral - but no flags’.


Bob was like a reverse Native American. He thought his soul would be taken away if a camera wasn't pointed at him.


But it wasn't because he was vain. It was because he felt such joy and he knew it provided others with such joy grappling with the important questions of life in an irreverent way. ‘A funny way of being serious’ he would say.

Now while he might have been ambivalent about a State Funeral, he was always interested – obsessed, even – with gauging the success (or otherwise) of projects he was involved in. Calling me to ask about podcast download numbers, overnight ratings, book sales, follow accounts.

So, Bob, you'll be delighted to know that the eulogy I tweeted about you was a blockbuster – my biggest ever: 400,000 views and 12,000 likes!

I'll read it to you, Bob. Upload it to the cloud, that you no doubt sitting on.

Now, what was Father Bob like? Privately, somehow kinder, and funnier than he was publicly.

We somehow ‘fought’ non-stop from the moment the record button was pressed in 2003 through documentaries, radio shows and books, right through to filming this year. But we never once fought.

More than being kind in a broad-brush straight way, he was kind in small ways. When an elderly congregant couldn't catch the Collingwood matches, he organised tapes from Channel 7 that he would slip to her along with the Eucharist wafer during communion.

Bob was wise as Buddha. He attracted all manner of outcasts, not all pleasant, but he was always open-hearted to those people too. I asked him how he did this and he said, ‘you don't have to like people to love them’.

When filming, it was an editor's nightmare to cut from the shot before I burst out laughing each time Bob finished a sentence.

I never thought Bob would ever stop making me laugh, but there was the sad news of his passing, he finally has.

Thank you.


[John Safran leaves the lectern. Father Werner Utri returns to the lectern.]

Father Werner Utri: Thank you, John. And thank you to everyone for their tributes today, and for helping us remember the very best of Bob. Father Bob's family would now like to share some of their treasured memories and images of Father Bob.

[A video and photo montage of Father Bob plays to Amazing Grace, sung by a member of his church congregation. Interspersed are snippets of Father Bob speaking.]

[Text onscreen: Reverend Bob Maguire 1934 - 2023]


Father Werner Utri: Thank you for sharing those beautiful images and memories. I'd now like to invite you all to please stand and join us as we begin the requiem mass celebrating the life of Father Bob.

[The Entrance Hymn, Come As You Are, is sung]

[A procession of Archbishops and priests enter. They follow the processional cross up the aisle to the front of the cathedral and take their positions in the sanctuary.]

[Most Reverend Peter A Comensoli DD, Archbishop of Melbourne, stands at the front of the Cathedral]

[Onscreen text: Most Reverend Peter A Comensoli DD, Archbishop of Melbourne]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Peace be with you all.

All: And with your spirits.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Friends, welcome to St. Patrick's Cathedral, our cathedral for our city Melbourne, on this occasion for the State Funeral of Father Bob Maguire.

Can I offer my own thanks and welcome especially to Bob's family present here, his three nieces, Peta, Anice, and Shauna, your own families who are here; to those who are representing our state and our country in different ways. Through, Mr. Anthony Howard, in particular representing Her Excellency, to our premier and opposition leader, to members of both federal and state parliaments.

To all of you who are present in various ways, but, most particularly I welcome as Father Bob would put it, the citizens of the ‘cobber-wealth’, you who are here as friends to him who was friend to you.

Welcome to our cathedral today for this solemn mass.

I recognize that many of you will, be perhaps unfamiliar with the Catholic liturgy, which Bob himself was very familiar with, but had a unique way in which it was celebrated.

There will be various symbols and words and actions that will take place during this time. And I invite you in your own way to participate and allow those symbols, to reveal to you a sense of the presence of God, and of our presence in God.

And we pray for Bob today that he might now share in the gift of eternal life that he so hoped for others.

And so my brothers and sisters, let us call to mind our sins and prepare ourselves for these sacred mysteries.

All: I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and what I have failed to do.

Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, and all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.

All: Amen

Cantors [Sing]: Lord have mercy.

All [Sing]: Lord have mercy.

Cantors [Sing]: Christ have mercy.

All [Sing]: Christ have mercy.

Cantors [Sing]: Lord have mercy.

All [Sing]: Lord have mercy.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Let us pray.

Hear with favour our prayers, which we humbly offer, O Lord, for the salvation of the soul of Father Bob, your servant and Priest, that he, who devoted a faithful ministry to your name, may rejoice in the perpetual company of your Saints. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

All: Amen

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: I invite you to be seated. Now, as we listen to the word of God today.

[The congregation is seated. Rosemary Williamson makes her way to the lectern.]

Rosemary Williamson: Father Bob knew there was always a time for everything. This first reading is from the book of Ecclesiastes.

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time for dying and a time for healing,
A time for tearing down and a time for building.
God set a time for sorrow and a time for joy,
A time for mourning and a time for dancing,
A time for embracing and a time to refrain from embracing.
God set a time to search and a time to give up.
A time to keep and a time for throwing away,
A time for tearing and a time for mending,
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
God set a time for love and a time for hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.

The word of the Lord.

All: Thanks be to God.

Cantors [sing]: The Lord is my Shepherd, and I want to follow,
wherever he leads me, wherever he goes.
Over the mountains, the waters, and by-ways,
valleys and highways he’s waiting for me.

I want to go to meet him there,
to lay myself down in his love.
The Lord is my shepherd, and I want to follow,
wherever he leads me, wherever he goes.

And while on the journey to where we are going,
he promised to be there to help us along.
And over the mountains we’ll walk on together,
to know all the wonders he’s given to me.

I want to go to meet him there,
to lay myself down in his love.
The Lord is my shepherd, and I want to follow,
wherever he leads me, wherever he goes.

[Anice Curlis makes her way to the lectern.]

Anice Curlis: This is a reading from the letter of St James.

Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him?
If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty’, without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?
Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.

The word of the Lord.

All: Thanks be to God.

Cantors [sing]: Alleluia, Alleluia.

All [sing]: Alleluia, Alleluia.

Cantors [sing]: I am the Resurrection and the Life, says the Lord. He who believes in my will not die forever.

All [sing]: Alleluia, Alleluia.

[Very Reverend Father Joseph Caddy AM makes his way to the lectern.]

Father Joseph Caddy: The Lord be with you

All: And also with you.

Father Joseph Caddy: A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

All: Glory to you O Lord.

Father Joseph Caddy: Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory.

All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate the people from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats.

He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”

Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?”

And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

All: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

[Organ music plays.]

[Father Joseph Caddy moves away from the lectern. Most Reverend Mark Coleridge BA DSS moves to the lectern.]

[Onscreen text: Most Reverend Mark Coleridge BA DSS, Archbishop of Brisbane.]

Archbishop Mark Coleridge: In my 75th year, as I move to the end of my working life as priest and bishop, I speak words of farewell to the man who, more than any other, led me to the priesthood. And I do so in this cathedral where I was ordained deacon, priest, and bishop. So, as I look back across the life of Bob Maguire, I look back across my own life as well.

I first met Father Bob when I was in my late teens and he and his early thirties. I was a university student with vague thoughts of diplomacy as a career; he was a young priest appointed chaplain to a fast-fading organisation known as the Catholic Young Men's Society.

Bob was determined to give it new life and that meant gathering together a group of students like me to serve on the executive. I said yes, not because of any great faith or commitment, but because some university mates of mine had also said yes.

I'd grown up in a very staid Catholic parish with an Irish parish priest who had been there for 40 years. He was a decent and cultured man, but there was nothing in him that stirred thoughts of the priesthood in me.

In Bob Maguire however, I saw something that I'd never struck before. A rare human vitality, a passion for the gospel and enthusiasm for all that was emerging in the church and from the Second Vatican Council.

Bob made the Catholic church and the priesthood seem exciting - even fun. He called us all on an adventure and that call has deeply shaped not only my life, but the life of so many others.

We have heard tell of Bob's difficult early life as the fifth and youngest child of Jim and Annie Maguire who had migrated from Scotland.

The troubles of those early years could have broken Bob - but didn't.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote that ‘the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places’. Bob was one of the many. He was broken by much in his early life, but he grew strong in the broken places. Which is why he was able to understand and embrace human brokenness and to work passionately to bring strength to the broken.

He decided to enter the seminary, he claimed, because a classmate of his at school had said that he was going to the seminary. Bob thought that wasn't a bad idea, so off to Werribee he went.

But there were surely more to it than that.

There was the mysterious call of Jesus, but there was also the search for structure, stability and security, which my marked Bob's life as a whole.

It's why he thrived in the seminary. It's why he chose the priesthood. It's why he liked serving as a military chaplain. It's why he made a home in South Melbourne and was so reluctant to leave.

It may seem strange to say that the search for structure, stability and security marked the life of a man who was such a bold and free spirit. Yet Bob Maguire was a man of seeming contradictions.

He was in some ways rebellious, yet in other ways he was quite conventional. He seemed at times a ‘troubler’ of the institutional church and its hierarchy. Yet Bob Maguire was very much a man of the church and even respectful towards bishops. There was a rebel in him, but he was a rebel within the church. He never walked away. He was always the outsider who was, and needed to be, an insider.

Bob could be as amusing as anyone I've ever met. Yet there was at times an undertone of melancholy to his mirth, not unlike the clown with the painted smile beneath which there lurks the pain.

He certainly had a sense of the tragic in life, though in the end the humor prevailed. Not as an escape from the tragic, but as a way of surviving and even making sense of it.

He was called a ‘larrakin priest’, yet he was a cultured man of high intelligence. His use of language could be powerfully poetic; epigrams from some deep place, but he also mastered the lingo of the streets.

He was a lovable character who stirred great loyalty and affection, but he could be impossibly cantankerous.

He was very sociable, but he was also very solitary.

That combination of closeness and distance, a man who was close to people but in whom there were great distances, that combination was one of the reasons why social media had such an appeal to him in later life.

Bob was very much the showman at ease with the celebrity that came to him. Yet he was not naturally a self-promoter.

He seemed at times a shy man with many protections, to whom the limelight had come without him ever really seeking it. Once he was there, however, he reveled in it because it provided him with another kind of structure, stability and security, but also a platform for the gospel, which was always the fire in his belly. The good news without borders.

He was very much a man of the people, but he was no less a man of God. For Bob, the two were the same thing. The hungry, the homeless, the lost and the excluded were Jesus. In them, God found him and he found God.

Bob Maguire never left Australia. Despite the urgings of friends through the years. To those urging him to go overseas, he once replied, unforgettably, “Why? I can be unhappy anywhere”.

Now that's true of course, but Freud it was, who distinguished between ordinary unhappiness and neurotic misery, and Bob was never neurotically miserable.

If it's true that I can be unhappy anywhere, then so too is the opposite. I can be happy anywhere - and Bob was happy to stay close to home. Once he settled in South Melbourne, he did not want to leave.

If he didn't travel far and wide, he did in another sense travel deep and wide, deep into the lives of people like myself, and the lost and broken who were his best friends; and wide into the vast network of rich and poor, powerful and powerless, Saint and sinner, which grew up around him through the years.

Father Bob became a brand, but he never sought just to sell the brand. At times, perhaps the brand overtook the man, but in the end, the man himself, the real human being rose above and beyond the brand.

That's what enabled him to travel deep and wide into this society, where he struck a powerful chord in surprising places.

Bob was an Aussie original who presented a face of religion that Australians recognise and respond to. He wasn't a ‘wowzer’, he was always on the side of the battler. He was about action, not just words. He rolled up his sleeves and got stuff done. He was down to earth, had mud on his boots. He didn't judge or condemn, he wasn't tribal, but opened his door to all and not least he had an unrivaled and uncontrived sense of humor.

Now put that profile together, and you have the kind of religion that has a chance in this country. Put the opposite profile together, and you have the kind of religion that has no chance whatsoever.

Bob Maguire favored religion where faith and good works go hand in hand. The kind of religion described by Pope Francis. “I prefer a church, the Pope says, “which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it's been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security”.

Bob could have written that.

In her poem When Death Comes, Mary Oliver has this: ‘When it's over, I want to say all my life I was a bride, married to amazement. I was the bride groom taking the world into my arms. When it's over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular and real. I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.’

Bob Maguire was a man married to amazement, which is why he was amazing. He took the world, the whole world, into his arms and made of his life something very particular and very real.

He didn't simply visit the world, he made a home in the world. He pitched his tent here, unforgettably, and his tent grew larger and larger, as more and more people came looking for shelter.

It will be those people above all, the ones he called ‘the unloved and the unlovely’ who will gather around God to welcome Bob home. Where all the suffering and sorrow will turn to joy for him and for them.

That's our faith and our prayer, pure and simple. As we bid farewell to the traveler who sets out on his final journey into God with the words of Jesus ringing around him; “Come, you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you. For what you did to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did to me”.

Eternal rest, give to Bob O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.



[Archbishop Mark Coleridge returns to his seat. Archbishop Peter Comensoli stands.]

[Graham Collier and Thomas Gorman move to the lectern.]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Friends, I invite you to stand.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me shall live even in death, and whoever believes in me shall never die." In this moment of both grief and hope, let us turn together to Our Heavenly Father and present to him our prayers.

Graham Collier: Heavenly Father, we pray for all leaders in the Church, Politics, Unions, Football and the Community. May those elected or assigned to leadership roles be mindful of all people they serve and carry out their jobs with honesty and integrity and, in Father Bob's words, ‘leave no one behind’.

We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord hear our prayer.

Graham Collier: We pray for those grieve, especially Father Bob’s family and friends. May our weight of grief be lightened for having known Father Bob. He lived his life for others. May we be comforted by his insights into life, his care for those who crossed his path and his charismatic gifts.

We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord hear our prayer.

Thomas O’Gorman: We pray for those who feel diminished through illness. May those who suffer physical, mental, and physical unwellness draw on the strength and headstrong positive approach that Father Bob showed to the illness that invaded his later years.

We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord hear our prayer.

Thomas O’Gorman: We pray for the marginalised, the poor and neglected. Father Bob gave without counting the costs. May we continue to provide for those less fortunate, for those who do not feel loved, and for those who are ‘outsiders’. May we continue to work towards being inclusive, so we can all be ‘insiders’.

We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord hear our prayer.

Thomas O’Gorman: We pray for our wonderful health workers: Father Bob was cared for by the very special medical and nursing staff at Cabrini Hospital and at Justin Villa Home for Retired Priests. We thank them and all the health professionals who showed such loving care and compassion for Bob in his final months.

We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord hear our prayer

[Graham Collier and Thomas Gorman return to their seats.]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Heavenly Father, we entrust to you all our prayers, sorrows and longings spoken and unspoken. Be with us through this time of grief and bless all who have been touched by Father Bob's long life and service to others. We make these prayers through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen

[Ave Maria is sung by cantor Kristina Lang.]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Pray, friends, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

All: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: We ask your mercy Lord, that this sacrifice of our service, offered for the soul of Bob, your Priest and servant, may now bring pardon to him, who devotedly offered sacrifice to you in the church, through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Those last sentences of that prayer we've just prayed of the offering of sacrifice was Bob's life in the priesthood. Sacrifice, not only in the way of our liturgy but sacrifice in his life. In our Catholic tradition, we now enter into that sacrifice in a particular way where bread and wine, simple bread and wine, become truly Jesus Christ for us in this moment.

The Lord be with you.

All: And also with you.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Lift up your hearts.

All: We lift them up to the Lord.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

All: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: It is truly right and just our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere, to give you thanks Lord, holy Father almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.

For as one alone, he accepted death, so that we might all escape from dying. As one man he chose to die, so that in your sight we all might live forever.

And so, in company with the choirs of angels, we praise you and with joy we proclaim

All clergy and cantors [sing]: Holy, holy, holy Lord God of power and might;
Heaven and hearth are fully of your glory
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Please kneel, if you can.

You are indeed holy O Lord, the fount of all holiness.

Make holy therefore these gifts we pray

[Bells ring]

by sending down your spirit upon them like the dewfall so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his passion, he took bread and giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, “take this all of you and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you”.

[Bells ring]

In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice and once more giving thanks, he gave it to his disciples saying, “take this all of you and drink from it. For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me”.

[Bells ring]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli [sings]: The mystery of faith.

Cantors [sing]: We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.

[Clergy gather around the altar table.]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his death and resurrection, we offer you Lord, the bread of life and the chalice of salvation. Giving thanks you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you. Humbly, we pray that partaking of the body and blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge: Remember Lord, your church spread throughout the world and bring her to the fullness of charity together with Francis our Pope, my brother Peter, the bishop of this place, me your unworthy servant, and all the clergy.

Remember your servant, our brother Bob, whom you have called from this world to yourself. Granted, he who is united with your son in a death like his may also be one with him in his resurrection.

Father Joseph Caddy: Remember also our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection and all who have died in your mercy. Welcome them into the light of your face.

Have mercy on us all. We pray that with the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God with blessed Joseph her spouse, with the blessed apostles, and all the saints who have pleased you throughout the ages, we may merit to be cohered to eternal life and may praise and glorify you through your son, Jesus Christ.

All clergy [sing]: Through him, and with him and in him, O God Almighty Father, in unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever.

All [sing]: Amen.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Informed by his divine teaching, may we now dare to pray that prayer that Jesus taught us.

All: Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil. Graciously grant peace in our days. That by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

All: For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave you, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will, who live and reign for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: The peace of the Lord be with you always.

All: And with your spirit.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Let us turn to one another and offer one another the gift of peace.

[All clergy and congregants turn to each other and shake hands, offering the sign of peace.]

Cantors [sing]: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

[Archbishop Peter Comensoli holds up the Eucharist (communion bread and wine).]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

All: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

[Archbishop Peter Comensoli returns the bread and chalice to the table.]

[Father Werner Utri moves over to the lectern.]

Father Werner Utri: For those wishing to receive communion today, I ask you to come down by the center aisle and return by the pillars. Or on the sides to come down the wall aisles and return by the pillars. Please sanitize your hands before coming, forward and those in the two transepts, to come forward by the center. And again, return by the pillars. Those not wishing to receive communion but wishing to receive a blessing, please cross your arms so that the priest knows to give you a blessing.

[Clergy move to positions across the alter, and the congregants form lines, moving forward one by one to receive communion, then returning to their seats.]

[Hymns Be Not Afraid and The Cry of the Poor are sung by the Cantors during communion.]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Let us stand and pray.

[The congregation stands.]

Renewed by food from your heavenly table, we humbly beseech you, O Lord, that by the power of this sacrifice, the soul of Bob your servant and Priest, who faithfully ministered in your Church, may exult forever in your sight. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: I invite you to be seated.

[The congregation sits.]

Friends, as we come to the conclusion of our prayer today and our remembrance of Bob, we have in our Catholic tradition, what we call ‘the final farewell’. The commendation of our friend to God and for the parting of his body to its place of burial.

In our Catholic tradition, there are a number of symbols that are going to be associated with this moment of commendation.

I want to particularly just point out one that has been present at the head of his coffin for the entirety of our time, including during the memorial speeches and that is the lighted candle, which we call the ‘Easter candle’ or the ‘Paschal’ candle. A candle that is lit in our Catholic tradition at the time of Easter to represent the risen Christ, the one who is risen from the dead. That we might have life and light in him.

An Easter candle would've been a lit at Bob's baptism, way back then, as a moment during his baptism when the light of Christ was symbolically handed onto him, having received it in the waters of baptism.

It's alight again now as we see something of the fulfillment of the promise that was made during baptism. There, he was promised eternal life. We now hold that hope for him as he has parted from us.

In a moment I'll come down and in the prayers there will be both the sprinkling of holy water, a reminder of that baptism that he received, the promises made, and also the incensing of the coffin of Bob's body. That action, a sign of both our prayer rising as the smoke of the incense rises, but also of an honoring of his body as truly the temple, the place of the dwelling of God.

So all of these sin symbols, I hope speak to you, whether you are, and I can see amongst us today, we've got lots of Catholics. I suspect there's a lot of Collingwood Catholics among you as well - that’s a particular version of Catholicism.


Amongst you many Catholics, are also Christians, our Muslim sisters and brothers, our Jewish sisters and brothers, and people of spirituality of reaching out to God. And all of you who are present in our humanity here, I hope these symbols also speak to you. And I ask for your prayer for Bob and his family, particularly at this time as we farewell him.

[Archbishop Peter Comensoli moves to the centre of the cathedral’s altar.]

Before we go our separate ways, let us take leave of our brother Bob. May our farewell express our affection for him. May it ease our sadness and strengthen our hope that one day we shall joyfully greet him again when the love of Christ, which conquers all things conquers and destroys even death itself.

[Archbishop Peter Comensoli moves down the steps in front of Father Bob’s coffin. He blesses the thurible (incense vessel) and holy water.]

Cantor [sings]: Saints of God, come to his aid! Come to meet him, angels of the Lord!

[Archbishop Peter Comensoli moves around Father Bob’s coffin and blesses it with holy water.]

All [sing]: Receive his soul and present him to God the most high!

Cantor [sings]: May Christ who called you, take you to himself; may angels lead you to Abraham’s side.

All [sing]: Receive his soul and present him to God the most high!

[Archbishop Peter Comensoli moves around Father Bob’s coffin and blesses it with incense.]

Cantor [sings]: Give him eternal rest, O Lord, and may your light shine on him forever.

All [sing]: Receive his soul and present him to God the most high!

[Archbishop Peter Comensoli moves back to the top of the steps on the altar.]

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Into your hands, Father of mercies, we commend our brother Bob, in the sure and certain hope that, together with all who have died in Christ, he will rise with him on the last day. We give you thanks for the blessings which you bestowed upon him in this life; they are signs of your goodness and of our fellowship with the saints in Christ.

Merciful Lord, turn toward us and listen to our prayers: open the gates of paradise to your servant and help us who remain to comfort one another with assurances of faith until we all meet in Christ and are with you and with our brother forever.

All: Amen.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: And in peace, let us take our brother Bob to his place of rest.

[Cantor Christopher Watson sings Danny Boy.]

[All clergy turn, genuflect towards the crucifix at the front of the Cathedral. Clergy walk down the stairs and form two lines at the aisle behind the processional cross. The clergy follow the processional cross down the aisle, walk around Father Bob’s coffin for the last time and out of the Cathedral.]

[Pallbearers gather and take their places around Father Bob’s coffin, then walk it down the aisle to the doors of the Cathedral.]

[Applause from the congregation rings out, as a bagpiper begins to play Danny Boy.]

[The pallbearers lift the coffin, carry it down the stairs of the cathedral as Father Bob’s family follow closely behind. Father Bob’s Coffin is placed gently in the awaiting hearse, surrounded by clergy and family. Mourners begin to exit the cathedral joining clergy and the family.]

[The Cathedral’s bell begins to toll. The Archbishop Peter Comensoli gives a final blessing to Father Bob’s coffin and condolences to Father Bob’s family.]

[The door of the hearse is closed. The bagpiper and Father Werner Utri lead the hearse in procession out of the Cathedral gates. There is quiet applause from the congregation].

[Text onscreen: State Funeral Service. Father Robert (Bob) John Maguire AM RFD. 14 September 1924 – 19 April 2023.]

[End of transcript.]