Let’s continue Father Bob’s legacy
The passing of Father Bob Maguire came as a shock to many. It is odd that the death of an 88-year-old would catch people by surprise. But Father Bob was one of those characters who appeared to be eternal. Without much thought, we assumed that he would be around forever.
Why is it that we assume that certain people will last forever? I think it is a hope that what they represent will be an ongoing constant in our world. It is because Father Bob, and others of his ilk, represent what is so desperately needed today.
Father Bob was renowned for occasionally butting heads with church hierarchy. Some elements of the church universal have demonstrated throughout history that they have capacity to focus on politics, power, prestige, and position. Father Bob consistently focused on people, particularly those that reside on the margins and are regarded as outsiders. Father Bob always made sure that the battlers knew that Bob had their back.
Father Bob, with his “sleeves rolled up” version of Christianity, helped make religion accessible to ordinary Australians.
Organised religion is often known for what it stands against. Father Bob was known for who he stood with. The excluded always knew they were included by Father Bob. There was always a seat at Father Bob’s table when the excluded weren’t welcomed anywhere else.
The issue of exclusion is becoming more prevalent in Australia as economic uncertainty grips the nation. It is interesting to observe that some sections of our community focus on self-preservation rather than looking for opportunities to further the great Australian tradition of looking out for each other, especially during difficult times.
I have been shocked in recent days to hear a business manager refer to people that access The Salvation Army for support as, “Riff raff who should all be locked up”. I have also heard another city resident describe the sight of people accessing Salvation Army services as, “disgusting”, and that, “The Salvation Army and similar services should stop providing support to those that need it as it is attracting undesirables and they are messing up the amenity of the area”.
Historically, Melbourne has always been known for who it stands for and who it stands with. It has never been known for who or what it stands against. As we continue to head towards economic turbulence, let us not be tempted by the allure of self-preservation at the expense of caring for others. It was Socrates who was credited with the quote, “Society will be judged by the way it cares for its most vulnerable”.
Let us do our bit to ensure that Melbourne always welcomes, embraces, accepts, and cares for the outsider, especially the most vulnerable. •