Father Bob Maguire was parish priest of St Peter and Paul’s Church in South Melbourne for 38 years. He commenced his ministry on 14 September 1973 with a focus on the homeless and disadvantaged.
You can read about Father Bob’s life and work in his biography Father Bob The Larrikin Priest by Sue Williams.
Father Bob gained personal inspiration from Vatican II and believed his mission was not so much ‘attracting people to the church’ but ‘taking the church to the people’. He had a particular burden for young people.
Social commentators during the 1970’s had identified youth homelessness as a significant social problem brought about by changing economic, social and political conditions.
‘A shortage of affordable housing, rising unemployment, the breakdown of families, an increase in domestic violence, and the availability of hard drugs all played a part.’ (Page 123)
Father Bob had a clear vision of what was required, ‘to connect with the disconnected’, to be there for those whose social connections had been severed and who were in danger of giving up on life. Father Bob lamented the unnecessary loss of life, particularly youth suicide.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that 1 in 4 deaths among young people aged 15 to 29 is attributable to suicide.
Father Bob understood that in times of personal crisis we need someone to be there for us. Social isolation is an identifiable risk factor in people who are thinking about taking their life.
The words of Pope Francis are a timely reminder of our responsibilities toward the young and old.
We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, and spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.Pope Francis