Monday, May 24, 2010

Homily at Funeral Mass for Cyril Hally, May 21 2010 (Noel Connelly)

My brothers and sisters, on behalf of my brother Columbans I would like to welcome you to a celebration of Cyril’s life and mission.

Cyril died suddenly and peacefully last Tuesday morning. He was confronted by a breakfast he did not want to eat and when the nurse left the room for a few minutes he lay back on his pillow and died.

Since then I and others here at Essendon have spent hours reading scores of email messages and listening to phone calls from people who felt he was an inspiration and a major formative influence in their lives.

Few Columbans and few priests have made so many people think so much and think so positively and so much outside the box.

Of all the messages I have received one that stands out for me was from a PMI graduate who was also involved in his care at Mercy Place. She wrote, “Noel, I am pleased he was able to live until he died” At first I thought this was a strange statement to make, an Irish bull until I realised it was profoundly true. He lived until he died. He didn’t give up. His world didn’t get smaller. He stayed interested and involved till the end. On one of my last visits with him I apologised that I wasn’t able to come the day before because I went to a lecture by Sandra Schneiders. “Buggar it” he said. I wanted to go to that.

So let us celebrate and draw comfort and inspiration from the life of a great Columban missionary priest, Cyril Hally.

Rather than a formal eulogy or a long history of Cyril’s life I would like to explain to you why I chose the three readings you have just heard.

I chose the reading from the book of Wisdom because it talks of people being put to the test. Cyril was put to the test and was found worthy. There are three tests that stand out for me.

The first involved his family. Cyril never knew his mother, Esther properly; she died when he was very young. Last Tuesday morning when the nurse left John Hishon and I alone with his body we prayed a few prayers and John prayed a beautiful prayer about Cyril now being happy with his brother and parents. I still pray that prayer. I hope, Cyril that you are now happy with your brother Mark, whom you loved, with your father, Thomas whom you admired and respected and with your mother, Esther, whom you missed deeply all your life.

The second test Cyril faced was that of a prophet. Cyril spoke confidently, challengingly and fearlessly and occasionally suffered the criticism, isolation and misunderstanding that passionate prophets do.

His last challenge was old age. Cyril was energetic and often impatient. When machines wouldn’t work for him or when things didn’t go the way he expected, He was famous for two words, “Buggar it.” So growing old wasn’t easy for him. He took quite a long while to come to grips with the fact that he was in his eighties let lone his nineties. His mind was always younger than his body. But in the last year or so I noticed and was touched that whenever I visited or did something for him he always thanked me graciously.

So, Cyril, while we are saddened by your passing, we are pleased that you are now with all the virtuous in the hands of God.

The second reading from Paul’s second letter to Timothy is one of my favourite readings in the New Testament. Paul was a complex and abstract theologian but in this reading we gain an insight into his profound love for Timothy. He cries and longs to see Timothy. He remembers Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice from who Timothy learnt his faith. I chose this reading for my parents’ memorial card because I am convinced that as John Donne said, No man is an island. Each of us is part of a continent, a piece of the main. We need one another. We catch our faith and most of our values from others.

In the last few days I have received scores of messages. All speak of the effect Cyril had n their life, of how he inspired them with his vision, commitment and energy. I appreciate what they say because Cyril has been one of the most influential people in my life. He has taught me how to think about the Church and the world. I don’t think I would ever have thought of historical trends, sociology, demography and cultural anthropology as sources for theology without him.

Cyril’s spirit was like the one Paul reminded Timothy of, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power, love and self-control.”

I chose the Beatitudes because they also represent the best of Cyril to me. Cyril was profoundly countercultural just as the Beatitudes are.

He was poor in spirit. He lived simply and had one of the smallest and worst wardrobes in the Society. He wasn’t greedy for anything except knowledge. I hope they have a good library in heaven and that they subscribe to the Monthly, the Manchester Guardian, the International Bulletin of Missionary Research and most especially the Friday edition of the Australian Financial Review.

He was gentle. He could be challenging and uncompromising but never malicious and always thought positively of people.

He mourned in his own life and felt for the marginalised and those suffering injustice. For a priest, an institutional man, he felt remarkably at home with aboriginals, migrants and gay people all kinds of marginalised. It was the big issues that mattered to Cyril.

He was pure in heart. He didn’t have a divided or compromised heart. He was committed to mission and the Kingdom of God. To that extent he had little chit chat or small talk. Again only the big issues mattered.

Peace was almost more important to him than justice. He was concerned about Jerusalem and prayed frequently for peace in Jerusalem. He felt that if we could achieve peace there we could achieve it everywhere.

And as a prophet he did suffer persecution at times.

So Cyril was a great man but he wasn’t perfect, but then you don’t have to be perfect to be loved and he was loved by many people. And he loved in return. He loved the Church. He loved the world and he loved each one of us even if he couldn’t always remember our names.

A good and great man is dead. May his goodness, energy, hope and vision live on in us?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cyril Hally RIP

Cyril Hally was one of my mentors. He would quietly draw me aside on my visits to the Columban houses where he lived and sit me down to do theology as a great storyteller. He inspired me read, research and study well. He had a breadth of scholarship and a compassion that come from a life lived in graced solidarity with the human condition of joy, hope grief and anguish.

I grieve his passing, give thanks for his life and offer this post of memorials and collected writings that you might remember him in prayer and continue his legacy of mission and justice making.

HALLY. - Rev. Fr. Cyril Thomas. Priest and Missionary of St Columbans Missionary Society.
Died peacefully at Mercy Place, Parkville on May 18, 2010. Born in Temuka, New Zealand on Feb. 9, 1920. Eldest son of Thomas and Ester Hally (both dec.). Brother of Mark (dec.) and brother-in-law of Pauline Hally, Rangiora, New Zealand. Missionary in Japan, New Zealand, Sydney P.M.I. and Melbourne

Concelebrated Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of Rev. Fr. Cyril Hally will be offered at St Columbans Chapel, 69 Woodland St, Essendon on FRIDAY (May 21, 2010) commencing at 12 p.m. The Funeral will leave at the conclusion of Mass for burial at Melbourne General Cemetery, College Cres., Parkville. A Vigil Service will be held in the above Chapel on THURSDAY (May 20) at 7.30 p.m

Cyril Hally Funeral May 21 2010 from Tony Robertson on Vimeo.


Cyril Hally: What is needed is a process of healing of memories which provides strength to the victims to tell the truth. This in turn calls for the conversion of the perpetrators of injustice and full restoration of the perpetrators' humanity. This has come out very clearly in the truth and reconciliation things in South Africa, where the police stood up, and had to stand up and say what they did, because they were less than human, and they were told that during the torture processes. Could it be that the weakening of the powerful institutional aspect of the Australian church's recent past, the decline in mass attendance, the decline in the numbers of clergy and religious, scandals of paedophilia and orphanages etc. are rendering the church more vulnerable and therefore open to reconciliation, healing of memories, the need for forgiveness. Are we prophets of gloom and doom? Or do we see the spirit moving to make us vulnerable?  (Religion Report  Wednesday 21/07/99 )

The Reverend Father Cyril Thomas Hally SSC JCL received an honorary doctorate from ACU at the Sydney Town Hall on 31 March 2005 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the cause of global peace and justice. "The life and ministry of Father Hally stand as a chronicle of the quest for peace in the 20th Century, of the Mission of the Church in the world, and of the common unity of humanity," said Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Sheehan AO

FR CYRIL HALLY Fr Cyril received a ‘Life Membership’ of the Paulinian Lay Missionary Association (PALMS). It recognised his contribution in helping found PALMS, which now places volunteer missionaries in the Pacifi c and Africa. Fr Cyril has moved to Essendon.

A Hundred Years of Irish Missionary Effort  (The Furrow ,Cyril Hally 1971)

Cyril Hally and the story of the South Pacific Association of Mission Studies 

Cyril Hally ssc, missiologist: Sensus fidelium in practice (ARC - Occasional Papers No. 2 - October 2004 p. 48)

The Transforming Power Of Healing On the island of Bougainville, reconciliation is as important as punishment in the judicial process. By Fr. Cyril Hally (Columban Newsletter)

Citation read by the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University on the occasion of the conferring of the degree of Doctor of the University, Honoris Causa, on Cyril Thomas Hally on 31 March 2005.

Cyril Hally: a dramatic voice at crucial moments | 2005-03-30
Reflections on the life and work of Cyril Hally on the occasion of the conferral of his honourary doctorate by the Australian Catholic University.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

AASR Conference 2010

The Australian Association for the Study of Religions (AASR) and the Multi-Faith Centre at Griffith University are hosting the 2010 AASR Conference. July 2-4 2010
You may be interested in giving a paper.
You may wish to attend a public lecture. Speakers:
  • Dr Anne Gardner (La Trobe University): The Apocalyptic: its Persistent Appeal and the Notion of Revelation
  • Anna Halafoff, Lecturur and Reearcher, UNESCO: Netpeace: Multifaith Movements and Cosmopolitan Governance

Another Day in the Life of Mr Catholic!

Thanks to Fiona Katauskas (Published in

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Anniversary Celebration for Timor Leste Independence

You are invited to celebrate the anniversary of:

East Timor’s Independence
    Saturday 22nd May
Mass: 6pm
Followed by Dinner & Entertainment @ 7pm
Please bring a plate to share. BYO drinks.

The official launch of the Brisbane East Timor Community Centre Website will also take place at the Celebration Dinner

Please RSVP by Wednesday, 19th May to:
Linia Bugg on 0418769849 or
Mary Hodge on 0431223232 or

Music to lift the spirit

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Fly on the Wall

George, do you know where to find grace before meals in this version, it was so much easier in the '69 edition?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Workers Rights and Catholic Social Teachings

The first weekend of May in some States is still known as  the  Labour Day long weekend. It's the poor cousin of public holidays with none of the mythic allure of the previous week's ANZAC holiday where dawn services, parades and saturation media bring in the crowds.

But the true believers still take to the streets keeping alive the memory of the struggle for workers rights and conditions which are denied to many in developing countries.

I think  it's something deep in my Catholic pysche about processions that calls me out to this annual pilgrimage with its ritual chants, regulations T/Shirts, and voices raised in the common chorus of Solidarity Forever.

 I have captured a collection of images from the annual march in Brisbane. Among the faces of friends I see many who are also fellow pilgrims of faith in various stage of Catholicism. Most march with their union, some march with groups advocating for justice issues.

In recent years the only group that carried a banner with any sort of identity with Catholicism came from St Mary's Community South Brisbane. However even their banner was not in its usual spot among the community groups this year.

Once again as I watched the parade pass before me I wondered about one of my favourite quotes from the Vatican documents: The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor and afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well (GS#1).

How can we expect the people of our time to know that the Church is with them in their struggles if we don't join them in their rituals? What happened to the enthusiasm for public witness that seemed to be part and parcel of the WYD2008?
Like the good sisters in this image too many Catholics are "footpath observers". The call to solidarity in the cause of justice is a call to join  the women and men of good will in the struggle and walk the hard yards for human rights.Our processional rituals in the Eucharist of presenting gifts and receiving communion should take us out into the streets in solidarity, compassion and celebration of the struggle for justice. 

I believe part of the problem for  many in the Church is a lack of awareness of the tradition of Catholic Social Teachings about Labour and workers rights. .For this year's commemoration I have designed a photo essay of texts from various sources to produce:Workers Rights and Catholic Social Teachings. 

My hope is that this resource will encourage parishes and groups to join the Labour Day March in their local communities in 2011!!!