Father Bob Maguire farewelled at Melbourne state funeral as John Safran leads tributes | Melbourne #Father #Bob #Maguire #farewelled #Melbourne #state #funeral #John #Safran #leads #tributes #Melbourne

An outspoken and lovable people’s priest who was always quick to lend a hand to those less fortunate is how Father Bob Maguire has been remembered.

Hundreds packed Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday morning for Maguire’s state funeral after his death last month, aged 88.

His niece, Peta Knights, spoke of his difficult early years, full of depravation and tragedy with an alcoholic father and the deaths of his parents when he was 15.

Maguire used those experiences to help others, becoming a parish priest in South Melbourne in the 1970s and working closely with the disadvantaged in the community, she said.

His message reached a national audience in 2005 when he joined broadcaster John Safran for a weekly radio program.

“Bob was like a reverse Native American. He thought his soul would be taken away if a camera wasn’t pointed at him,” Safran joked during his eulogy on Friday.

“But it wasn’t because he was vain. It was because he felt such joy and he knew he provided others with such joy, grappling with the important questions of life in an irreverent way.”

Safran said he spent so much time with Father Bob over 20 years, he felt as if he could “auto generate an AI chat between him and me regarding today”.

“Bob, you are dead. Do you want a state funeral?” he asked.

“No!” he replied to himself, pretending to be Maguire.

John Safran addresses mourners at the state funeral service for Father Bob Maguire on Friday in Melbourne.
John Safran delivers eulogy at the state funeral service for Father Bob Maguire on Friday in Melbourne. Photograph: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, shared a similar sentiment, saying Maguire was never afraid to speak out for what he believed was right.

“His kindness wasn’t always quiet or polite and nor should it have been,” the premier told the service.

“If he thought the church had overstepped, he told them. If he thought the media had got it wrong, he told them.

“If he, on the rare occasion, thought that government had made a bad decision, he was certainly not afraid to let me – let them – have a piece of his mind.”

Maguire balanced media commitments and charity work with his parish duties until he was forced to retire from the Catholic church in 2012.

His foundation, dedicated to providing regular community meals and a food pantry for those less fortunate, was a key focus.

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Frank O’Connor, from the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, told the service the larrikin priest only wanted to make the world a better place.

“We know he’s done so much and he’s inspired so many others to follow that path,” he said.

“The world is a better place because of his work.”

Maguire was honoured with a full requiem mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral led by the Melbourne archbishop Peter Comensoli.

His coffin was carried out of the cathedral to loud applause and bagpipes playing Amazing Grace.

A portrait of Father Bob Maguire at his state funeral service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.
A portrait of Father Bob Maguire at his state funeral service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Hundreds of mourners, including the federal minister Bill Shorten, Victorian opposition leader John Pesutto and underworld figure Mick Gatto, followed Maguire’s coffin out of the church at the end of the funeral.

More than 2,000 others watched the service online or live at Federation Square.

Maguire was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for services to youth homelessness and was named Victorian of the Year in 2011.

He died at Cabrini hospital in Melbourne on 19 April.

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