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Fr Pat Mooney RIP

18 September, 2023

Last month, Fr Pat Mooney, passed away in Mackay.  He was well loved right across this diocese.  A gentle man, who loved to yarn and listen, he served generously as a priest  for over 51 years.  The last ten years were marked by ill-health yet still he continued to serve as his health allowed. May he enter into the reward prepared for a good and faithful servant.

Homily given by Bishop Michael at Fr Pat Mooney’s Funeral Mass

The life and death of each of us has its influence on others.  As the followers of Jesus reflected on the mystery of life and death; over these days we have listened as friends, relatives, parishioners and people of the Diocese reflected on our brother Patrick Denis Mooney.

Fr Pat was born on the 13th February 1944 in Bundaberg. With his family including sister Lahna and brother Tony joining us from heaven and their families, together with our brother priests and the whole of our Diocesan family, we commend our brother to the living embrace of our God.

So let’s for a few moments reflect on the beautiful funeral prayers of the Catholic rite – “Look with mercy and give him the reward of his labours, the fullness of life promised to those who preach Your holy gospel”.  Brothers and sisters, as we prayed that prayer at the beginning of our celebration this morning, it is our wish, that our brother Patrick, who was chosen to be one of God’s priests, would enjoy the fullness of life.

As we reflect over his life and his presence in the Diocese, we remember that Pat was educated at St Joseph’s Primary School, Bundaberg, with the Christian Brothers and later at St Patrick’s Strathfield, where many a young man went discerning their vocation for the religious life. He then pursued a financial career with the Treasury, but the call of God became so strong he entered St Paul’s National Seminary for late vocations, just after his 25th birthday.  He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Rush, 51 years ago on the 25th August 1972.  Bishop Rush ordained many of us to the priesthood in this Diocese, and also in Brisbane when he left this Diocese to go to Brisbane.  Father Pat  served the Diocese of Rockhampton as its priest in parishes of St Joseph’s North Mackay, St Mary’s South Mackay, Holy Rosary Bundaberg, St Peter’s Rockhampton, St Patrick’s Blackall, Sacred Heart, Mt Morgan and here among you at St Francis Xavier, West Mackay.  We got to know Fr Pat in all his wonderful ways of ministry and his pastoring in special areas of ministry, which included the Catholic Women’s League and the Indigenous Apostolate.  Father Pat has served the Diocese of Rockhampton with generosity, and we pray that his labours will be rewarded, and God shows him mercy, as we all pray in hope for Father Pat.

We listened as the Church in its wisdom unfolded for us the richness of the funeral rite and its readings.  So eloquently expressed, our homeland is in heaven and from heaven is the saviour we wait for.  That, brothers and sisters, is our hope this morning.  Once again, the final part of our journey, as was Pat’s, involves just us and God as we await him to take us home to our homeland.  As St Augustine expressed it, “our hearts are restless until they rest in thee”.  It is our hope as our faith shows us, that it is God who welcomes us home as we follows the path of Jesus who has walked as the Risen One before us.  As St Paul continues, it is the Risen One who accompanies us as we encounter our God and give an account of our life as we have lived it for the Lord.  We listen to the reassuring words of Jesus as remembered by the community of the evangelist Matthew, words for us to take with us this day.  Not our words, but the words of Jesus – “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.  Shoulder my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls.  Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

Let’s for a moment pause as we sum up Fr Pat.  I asked one of the priests, what would you say about Fr Pat: “Let’s just stop for a yarn and a cup of” tea was his motto.  He loved a yarn, he loved just pausing and spending time with people.  This morning we have his good friend, Bishop Les Tomlinson, who knew him from seminary days, back in 1969. That’s a long time ago.  There was a lovely friendship between Fr Pat and Bishop Les.  Fr Pat would say we’re just having cups of tea on the verandah and having a nice afternoon.  He loved to yarn and he loved that time.  Yet, he was a faithful man and very much a disciple of Jesus Christ and a minister of God’s people.

We also sit with our family, our whole Diocesan family, who mourn the loss of Fr Pat and thank him for his incredible 51 years of priestly ministry in our Diocese, looking after you as God’s people, but also supported by his family.  To you Lahna and the family gathered with us this day, we offer you our sympathy as we surround you with the Diocesan family.  More especially it is that day where we say thank you.  Thank you for the gift of your brother who was very much a part of our Church.

And now we say that very beautiful prayer – Lord for your faithful people life is changed not ended, an eternal place is now made ready for him in heaven.  For Fr Pat, may he rest now in the peace of Christ.

Eulogy for Fr Pat given by Fr Don White

Well, it is very fitting that the funeral liturgy has been celebrated from here at this Church of St Francis Xavier, given Pat’s long years as part of this faith community, first as parish priest for about 10 years and then of course into retirement.

As the Bishop mentioned in his homily, Pat served as a priest right across the Diocese, and so he will be remembered over these days in many communities right across Central Queensland, including of course the Parish of Bundaberg, with his family from there, where his faith was nurtured at a young age.

So, mindful today, we celebrate the life of a much-loved Diocesan priest, whose apostolate was so greatly appreciated in so many places, and for us priests, was always a kind and supportive presence in this Diocesan presbyterate.

I first met Pat way back in 1986 in Blackall when he was parish priest.  At that time I was a student of Pius XII seminary in Brisbane, and Fr Mike Duffy the Rector at that time asked a small group of students during a seminary break to travel out to the Central West so we could experience the parishes there and also he wanted us to do some promotional work for the seminary, that the seminary could be better known.  And so we spent three days with Pat at Blackall.  He gave us a great welcome and we enjoyed his hospitality.  Although being relatively new at that appointment he took us to various families, out to a couple of properties, to school and other places and so first hand, very importantly, we observed what could be described as his pastoral touch, his own pastoral closeness to so many people.  It was this pastoral closeness that I saw again at work on my return to Mackay in 2017 to work alongside Pat, although he was in retirement, here in the Mackay Southern Cluster.  I am sure all the priests who have served in this Southern Cluster in recent years can testify to Pat’s generosity and to say how much we valued his presence.

Although retired, and at various times aware of his own health battles, Pat was very active in this community.  Some days he must have felt like going just a bit slower, so he paced himself, and he continued to offer priestly ministry right across the area, but particularly here in the Southern Cluster.  He did that especially in the celebration of the Sacraments constantly and faithfully.  He simply wanted to continue life as a priest among the people as best he could, and characteristically of Pat, just simply no fuss, sharing his faith, sharing the gospel.  In scriptural terms you could say he was always a good and faithful servant.  Close to so many people, with the knowledge of how they were going in life, in touch with them through their ups and downs, a true pastoral closeness, and as we look back, we thank him for that.

We also pay tribute to Pat as a man of wisdom.  Pat was a big thinker, whether about issues in the Church, or the wider community or the bigger world in which we live.  One would always be totally confident that if there was a problem in the parish, you could tell Pat, openly talk to him about things knowing that nothing would ever go any further.  In that sense, he was to many of us, a great sounding board and his wisdom will be missed.

The Deanery was always grateful for his company at Sunday lunch.  He always made an effort to come along to that lunch and to be part of that gathering, and he was always ready to assist the priests to get away whether it was for holidays or work meetings.  In saying that he enjoyed the company of his brother priests, we acknowledge that he actually enjoyed the company of a whole spectrum of people.  In a Christ-like way, Pat had a special place in his heart for the battler and was confidant to many people over the years, we can be sure he helped others quietly, in the background, simply carrying their burdens, led by his presence, with prayers and spiritual guidance, his good humour, the long, long chat or just being a friend.  I think we know in turn Pat was grateful for the support of so many of you here today and he enjoyed the friendship of so many, and of course he shared his love of the Eucharist and love of the Church in an unsparing way.

And so this is a sad moment.  Pat’s passing leaves a gap for us, his priest family, his many friends and the people of faith communities right across the Diocese, but especially so here in Mackay.  With his earthly labours now over, may Pat be embraced in the eternal life by Christ whom he served so well in this life.  May he rest in peace, Amen.