Radio host’s hilarious tribute to Father Bob
Fans of beloved Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire are flooding into a Melbourne cathedral to say their final goodbyes.
The doors of St Patrick’s Cathedral were thrown open ahead of the state funeral, which is now under way.
Father Bob will be remembered as an unconventional leader of the Catholic Church at a time when it was largely unpopular to be.
‘Tibetan sky burial’
Radio host John Safran, who co-hosted a Triple J show for a decade with Father Bob, shared a tender yet hilarious tribute to his friend.
“I spent so much time with Father Bob over 20 years, I feel I can auto-generate an AI chat between him and me regarding today,” he said before launching into the imagined conversation.
“Bob, you’re dead, do you want a state funeral?” he asked.
“No!” he barked, pretending to be Bob.
Laughter echoed off the cathedral walls as Safran suggested Father Bob would prefer a “Tibetan sky burial where they take you up the mountain and you’re eaten by the birds”.
He pretended to persuade his friend to take up the offer of a state funeral by suggesting it would “really annoy (his) enemies” and act as his “last laugh”.
Safran broke into a chuckle when he compared Father Bob to a “reverse Native American”, saying he “thought his soul would be taken away if a camera wasn’t pointed at him”.
— John Safran (@JohnSafran) April 19, 2023
“But it wasn’t because he was vain, it was because he felt such joy and he knew it provided others with such joy,” Safran said.
He said Father Bob would have been overjoyed at the success of his eulogy to him that reached more than 400,000 views on Twitter.
“It was a blockbuster,” he said before reading it aloud to the church.
Highlight reel of Father Bob’s life
Applause erupted after a video montage that showcased some of the 88-year-old’s most memorable moments of his life.
“It’s about how people feel about what’s going on, not what they think,” he says tapping his head while wearing boxing gloves and a priest’s rob.
A parishioner belting out a rendition of Amazing Grace was overlaid between clips of Father Bob shaking hands with people on the street.
“In difficult times you should always keep something beautiful in your heart,” he reads from a book in another clip.
“Perhaps as a poet said, it’s beauty that will save us in the end.”
Another clip shows Father Bob standing in reflection at a shrine for fallen soldiers overlaid with the sound of him reading the inscription “Don’t forget me cobber”.
“If it wasn’t for Father Bob, we wouldn’t all be here,” a man says while staring down the barrel of a camera.
“We’re not going to come to any deep and meaningful solutions ladies and gentleman unless we involve the heart,” Father Bob says in the final clip.
Premier Dan Andrews: ‘All saints are rebels’
Premier Daniel Andrews was the first to take to the lectern to pay tribute to the hero of countless Victorians.
“If he thought that the church had overstepped, he told them,” Mr Andrews said.
“On the rare occasion he thought the government had made a decision,” he added, pausing for laughter.
“He was most certainly not afraid to let me or them have a piece of is mind.”
After news broke of Father Bob’s death on April 19, Mr Andrews shared a tribute to the man who made the state a “kinder, fairer place”.
“He spread his message of kindness on Triple J, took to the street to protest and was never afraid to pick up the phone and argue for what was right,” he said.
“Our state is a kinder, fairer place because of Father Bob. And we’ll miss you greatly, comrade.”
During the funeral, Mr Andrews recalled Father Bob’s own words, “all saints are rebels”, to describe the man who consistently broke down barriers between the public and the church.
Heartfelt tributes poured in from across the country after the 88-year-old’s death.
Tributes to the beloved priest
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
“We have lost a great Australian,” Mr Albanese wrote on social media.
“An irrepressibly cheerful champion for all those battling disadvantage, he dedicated his life to brightening the lives of those most in need.
“A man of warmth and faith who faced struggles with a cheeky grin.”
John Safran, former Triple J radio host
The radio host shared the microphone with Father Bob for a decade for a weekly show about religion and ethics on the youth broadcaster.
“What was Father Bob like privately? Somehow kinder and funnier than he was publicly,” Mr Safran said in a statement shared to social media.
“More than being kind in broad brushstrokes, he was kind in small ways.
“When an elderly congregant couldn't catch the Collingwood matches, he organised tapes from Channel 7 that he would slip to her, along with the Eucharist wafer, during communion.”
Sunday Night Safran ran from 2005 to 2015.
Kon Karapanagiotidis, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre founder
“Vale Father Bob,” the lawyer and author wrote to Twitter.
“A beautiful man who dedicated his life to serving marginalised communities and was always the first to offer his support to the ASRC in times of need to help refugees.
Eddie McGuire, TV presenter and AFL commentator
The former host of long-running trivia game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire first met Father Bob when Maguire was 13.
“I loved him dearly. He was a great man,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne of the man who served as chaplain at his Catholic high school.
He later discovered Father Bob funded the scholarship that allowed him to attend the school.
What will Father Bob be remembered for?
A life of service was front of mind for Father Bob from the age of 25 when he was ordained as a Catholic priest.
He served as parish priest at St Peter & Paul’s Catholic Church in South Melbourne from 1973 until his forced retirement at age 77 in 2012.
Father Bob earnt himself a reputation for breaking from the stiff traditions of the religious institution, shocking many with his uncanny ability to move with the times.
While discussing how religious groups can keep young people engaged at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, he gave a one word answer: “Twitter”.
The beloved priest kept in touch with his more than 125,000 followers on the social media platform right up to his final days.
He was appointed Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 and was Victorian of Year in 2011.