FUNERAL MASS FOR FATHER PATRICK FITZPATRICK CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART
AT SAINT KEVIN’S CHURCH, TEMPLESTOWE, ON TUESDAY 17 JUNE 2008 AT 11AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last Saturday morning, in the eighty-third year of his life, and three days after his fifty-eighth Ordination Anniversary, Father Patrick Joseph Fitzpatrick completed his earthly pilgrimage and returned to his home in heaven.
United with his brother, Joe, his sister, Phil O’Brien, and his sister-in-law, Maura, and family members in Ireland, we come to bury him with love and admiration as a devoted and generous pastor. The priesthood was his whole life, lived with dedication and commitment right to the end.
Together with the parishioners of the parishes in which he served with generosity, we remember him with esteem as we bring his generous priestly soul to the care of Almighty God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In these days when much is said about the ‘new evangelisation’ and the desire to draw people to the Gospel, we come to bury with fervour and esteem the priestly soul of Father Patrick Joseph Fitzpatrick.
We know him as a staunch pastor, constant in his love for the people who never sought the limelight, but was always faithful to the work he undertook. His homilies were always carefully prepared, and as he was finishing his homily for Saturday night, the Lord called him.
Patrick Fitzpatrick was born at Barkmills, Mountmellick, County Laois, in Ireland on 21st August, 1925, the son of John Fitzpatrick and Margaret McEvoy, one of a large family. Three cousins became priests; Father Paul Maher of this Archdiocese, Father Paul Maher in Ireland, and Father Tom Hipwell, O.M.I., who also worked here.
Early education was at the national school in Mountmellick and subsequently at Saint Mary’s College, Knockbeg, Carlow. He entered Saint Patrick’s College, Carlow, in January 1944 and was ordained in the Church of the Sacred Heart at the College on 4th June 1950 by Dr. Keogh. A renowned Irish priest once quipped that Dr. Keogh had been expelled from Maynooth by the then Monsignor Mannix.
On 26th November 1950 Father Fitzpatrick came to Australia carrying the rich pastoral style and gifts that the Irish priests have given to the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Paddy went to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in 1951. He worked hard at his duties. Father John Brosnan once said that while his brother priests were upstairs discussing weighty matters, Father Paddy would be downstairs instructing converts. This was followed at regular intervals by an appointment as Assistant at East St Kilda. Father John Durkin had asked for a second curate at East St Kilda – Monsignor Fox was not able to oblige – instead he sent Father Paddy who, he said, was as good as two curates. Then came East Bentleigh and Dandenong.
In 1962 he was appointed first Parish Priest of Doveton, transferred to Doncaster East in May 1971, to Essendon in 1980 and to East Brighton in 1985. He was appointed Pastor Emeritus on 20th January 1993, and in his time as a retired priest supplied regularly for 15½ years here at Saint Kevin’s, Templestowe, where the people welcomed him with great affection. Hence the request that his funeral be celebrated here.
Father Pat was a great conversationalist and at times combative and adversarial. People loved him because he worked so hard. This is why his increasing deafness over the last eight years was a tremendous cross to him. He loved gatherings of priests and people and the personal relationship that these gatherings en