Death of Father Tony Hoade

July 1, 2008 4:33 pm

Father Anthony Hoade, a senior priest of the Lismore Diocese, died on Saturday 28th June at hospital on the Gold Coast as a result of complications following surgery. Father Hoade was aged 79. He was born at Ballyglunin, County Galway, Ireland on April 16, 1929. After preparatory school he entered Mt Melleray Seminary County Waterford to commence studies for the priesthood and then to St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny where we has ordained a priest on June 6, 1954 by the Most Reverend Dr, Collier, Bishop of Ossory. He arrived in Casino on 21st. January 1955 to commence his work as a priest of the Diocese of Lismore. He served as an assistant priest in the parishes of Casino, Kempsey, Wauchope, Lismore and Tweed Heads. He was appointed parish priest of Tweed Heads in December 1971 and held that appointment until 1st May 1982 when he was appointed parish priest of Mullumbimby until 1999. He retired from active ministry on 1st June 1999 to live in Tweed Heads. His interests were always with the people he served and had a prodigious memory for recalling names of people and their families. He was an avid sports follower. He was a keen golfer and a follower of rugby league. His ability to make friends easily and extend compassion to those in need endeared him to many and won him wide respect. His care and concern for those in need extended far beyond his Catholic community. His Requiem Mass was concelebrated on Thursday 3rd.July at St. Joseph’s Church Tweed Heads at 11am. His burial took place at the Tweed Valley Lawn Cemetery, Duranbah. The Homily at the Concelebrated Requiem Mass was given by Father Jim Reilly. The text of that homily follows: ‘I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith’. Instead of St Paul, Tony could well have written those words. I think Mother Theresa said, ‘God doesn’t look for success, he looks for faithfulness.’ In 1954 this handsome young priest from Galway arrived in Australia and it was immediately plain to see that he was totally dedicated to the priesthood to which he was called. Nothing he did for good in his priestly life would he claim came solely from himself. He’d claim, as did St Paul, that the Lord stood by him and gave him power, so the message might be proclaimed for all to hear. The message of love. He treated everybody as an equal and he took seriously the command to serve and not to be served and he had the ability to uplift so many who were in need. He worked with Aborigines long before we had an Aboriginal Apostolate in the Diocese. He just loved people. I think one of the reasons he was able to accept everyone he met, was his knowledge of his own unworthiness and of his acceptance of God’s loving grace for him. He realised that he was a creature, loved by God, with a love based on nothing and accepting his own life in gratitude, he didn’t cling to it but passed it on to others. The most important person in his life was the one who was talking to him at any time, it didn’t matter who that person was, he could share their anguish, or frustrations or laughter. He respected the suffering of others and while never thinking he could solve all problems, people knew that their doubts, problems and questions were always taken seriously. He had a receptive, hospitable and generous heart and even though his health may have suffered he saw that as less important than being with people. He was poor in spirit because he was an open gate through which God’s blessings and love came to others. He did not seek power or prestige or possessions. He didn’t often push his barrow but there was an occasion when he showed his courage. It’s not easy to preach to priests but on one priests retreat at Yamba he spoke powerfully of the sin of jealousy among priests and of using people for priests own ends. Bishop John who was our bishop then said, it was the best he had heard, and he’d know because he sought nothing for himself either. Tony was always understanding of the weaknesses in others. He’d say ‘mate, I find it hard enough myself, surely I can offer sympathy rather than criticism. He sought and he found the good in people not their faults. One of his friends the other day said, ‘we have lost a great Australian’. How true. He was nominated a hero of the community by the schools of this parish and had his image set on the lawns of Parliament House Canberra. He was awarded the Centenary medal by the then Prime Minister John Howard, and in 2006 he took out Australian Citizenship. So he certainly was an Aussie. At that ceremony the President of Royal Wednesdays ‘Singing Fingers’, Bully O’Fry, bestowed on him his new title ‘“ ‘Cobber’. He was also told that if he filled in a form and sent it in he’d be eligible to vote. He gave it to me and said ‘we won’t be needing that mate. I’ve been voting for 52 years.’ He knew people who had achieved in their professions, Roger Davis, Australian Open Golf Champion. John Brass, dual International Footballer, Rugby Union and Rugby League Neil Pringle, that great Balmain Footballer, Wombat, Bear, important people all, but he didn’t care about that, he cared only that they were his friends. Some of his closest friends were those who belong to the Royal Wednesday Golf Association, ordinary blokes all. He was a peoples priest. I spent some time with him in taxis. It didn’t take him more than a couple of minutes to discover that he had either baptised the taxi driver, or married his parents or knew him from some footy club or other or knew some relative of his. He was amazing. It is wonderful that so many of you are here to honour him today. It is wonderful that the priests of the diocese and other priests can surround our Bishop, Bishop Jarrett, to celebrate this Mass asking the Lord for his mercy and forgiveness for any wrong Tony may have done. His sisters Mary and Doreen and their husbands Jim and Dom are unable to be here and they asked that they be represented by Sr. Martha, Hoades spiritual advisor and Margaret Moore his house-keeper, secretary, cook, carer, mail collector and friend. His sisters especially asked that thanks be given to the Doctors and Nurses of John Flynn Hospital who could not have been more caring and professional, to the priests and all the people who showed such care for him particularly over the past month. Fr Anthony, as they called him, was particularly close to his 3 nephews in Canada, Joe, John and Jim. They are sorry they are unable to be here today in person but they are here in spirit. Tony was my friend, but nobody who knew him would say anything less of themselves. Each could say ‘He was my friend,’ and he was a special friend of the congregations at Bilambil. Fr John Darbyshire, who was with him when he died, along with Bing and Margaret, said how peacefully he died with the old Fr Tony smile on his face. I reckon the Lord greeted him with a few drams of Jameson. Fr James Anthony (Tony) Hoade, with St Paul, you have fought the good fight to the end, you have run the race to the finish, you have kept the faith. At the end of Mass Tony will be carried from the Church by members of his Priests support Group, and he will be carried to his grave by members of Royal Wednesday’s Golf Group. Tony Rest in peace.