Father Brian Morrison.
Father Brian Morrison.

Tireless local charity worker and inspirational humanitarian Father Brian Morrison has died, aged 76.

The hugely popular Perth figure, who had cancer, died yesterday at St John of God Hospital in Subiaco surrounded by family.

Father Brian's sister, Judy Morrison, released a statement thanking the WA community for its support during his final weeks.

She promised that the Father Brian's Crisis Care centre Christmas appeal would go ahead as a tribute to him, but a decision on the charity's future was "yet to be considered".

The death opened floodgates of tributes from politicians, religious leaders and fellow charity workers, who praised Father Brian's selfless and unyielding determination to better the lives of those dealt a cruel hand in life, especially children.

Premier Colin Barnett described him as "a face of compassion and caring", while Opposition Leader Eric Ripper praised his ability to reach out to an entire community.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith, the Federal member for Perth, said the Catholic priest lived "a generous and selfless life".

Born in Malvern in Melbourne, Father Brian came to WA 37 years ago to develop the Catholic Church's Crisis Care centre and turned it into a beacon of hope and salvation in the darkest of times.

The heads of fellow charity organisations the St Vincent De Paul Society and the Salvation Army spoke of the indelible mark he had made on the WA welfare sector.

Anglicare WA chief executive Ian Carter said: "Father Brian literally worked at the grass roots and touched the lives of many thousands of West Australians."

Religious leaders united in an outpouring of respect.

Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey led the tributes. "We have lost a priest who is irreplaceable," he said. "He was unique, out of a different mould."

Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft said Father Brian had an "extraordinary compassion for the downtrodden, a willingness to fight tirelessly on their behalf".

On no fewer than 30 occasions, Father Brian answered a calling to the scenes of natural disasters and humanitarian crises across the world. To Bangladesh and Belarus, to Cambodia and Croatia. To Romania, East Timor, Iraq and the sodden ground zero of the 2004 tsunami.

Fatefully, he went four times in 16 years to the Ukraine during the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster, where he suspected he came into contact with contaminated food that may have led to his cancer. In his final years, he spoke of the personal toll the disasters took on a blog for the Government's online source for seniors.

"It never gets easier," he wrote. "If it got easier then I wouldn't be doing a good job. You have to live with the things you've seen."



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The West Australian

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