Funeral Mass for Father Stanley Norman Hill celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart at St John the Baptist Church, Clifton Hill

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Together with his nieces Sharon and Therese, family members, brother priests and friends, we come to bid farewell to Father Stanley Norman Hill who served here in Clifton Hill for nearly twenty years. Last Wednesday, in the 92nd year of his age and the 63rd year of his priesthood, he died peacefully at St Bernadette's Home in North Sunshine, as he had always lived, as a priest of God.

We gather to pray for the repose of his soul, that as we knew him as a faithful and generous priest, his recommendation will be strong before the Lord who loves and understands us, and that comfort will be provided to his family and friends.

'I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and they know me.'

We are gathered here at St John the Baptist Church where Father Stan Hill served for so long, to bid him farewell, to pray for the repose of his soul and to acknowledge his great faithfulness.

Father Stan first served generously in the Blessed Sacrament Order. He entered the Blessed Sacrament Congregation in 1946, was professed in 1949 and ordained priest by Archbishop Simonds in St Patrick's Cathedral on 15 December 1954. Father Stan had worked at St Francis for seventeen years, as hospital chaplain to Peter Maccallum, Queen Victoria and Jessie McPherson Hospitals. He had been Vocation Director and taught Scripture and had regular contact with the elderly at Little Sisters of the Poor, Northcote over a period of eight years.

In 1976 he sought permission to work in the Archdiocese, and after a very fruitful period at South Caulfield with Father Nick Stafford in a special apostolate to the elderly, negotiations were entered into with Father Bill Bainbridge of Collingwood, Father Frank Richards of North Richmond, Father John Mello of North Fitzroy and Father Frank Harman of Clifton Hill. Finally it was decided that the best possibility for this special apostolate to older Catholics was in Clifton Hill.

He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Melbourne on 21 January 1980. The leaders of the Blessed Sacrament Order recognised that his particular charism of care for the elderly could not be exercised directly in the Order; however in his years as a Blessed Sacrament Father he faithfully ministered the sacraments.

Stan remained at Clifton Hill from January 1981 until August 2000.

 I remember that while Father Frank Harman was disposing of weighty matters canonical, theological and ecclesiastical, Father Stan constantly did his work so well, together with the unforgettable housekeeper Rita McCluskey, in the Parish of Clifton Hill, where Stan's talents were able to complete the other demands made on Father Harman from a wide range of sources. My frequent visits to Clifton Hill in those days always found Stan a wonderful, generous pastor, a man devoted to the people, to providing home Masses for the elderly, to give them a sense of belonging and care, and I believe that this special apostolate has been the inspiration of his life.

He retired to live in Reservoir, during which time he did some pastoral work. We remember him as a remarkably honest, generous and faithful priest who was always focused on the work of the Lord which you could bring to others and which he did so generously.

So many people have been consoled by his sincere, honest and outgoing approach to bring the faith to them, and it reflects strongly upon the respective parish priests that Stan was allowed to minister so effectively for so long here.

It is fitting therefore that as a good shepherd, we could certainly say he knew the sheep, and in the words of Pope Francis, he certainly knew the sheep.

May his priestly, generous soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

+ Denis J Hart

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