ROCKHAMPTON priest Fr Chris Schick died, surrounded by his family at Yeppoon, on July 30 after a short battle with cancer.
He was 59 years old.
More than 1000 mourners gathered at his funeral at St Joseph’s Cathedral at Rockhampton on August 3 to pray and thank Fr Schick for his gifts to his communities.
The crowd was so large it overflowed into the shelters in the Cathedral Court where a screen connected those worshippers to the ceremony.
The Cathedral College, where Fr Schick was chaplain, provided a guard of honour for the funeral procession.
Fr Schick’s death occurred just as his fellow priests were entering their annual retreat nearby at The Haven.
That afternoon Fathers Frank Gilbert, Noel Milner and Matthew Moloney, with Bishop Michael McCarthy, prayed on behalf of the diocesan family and the presbyters of the diocese, the prayer of the Church.
“Saints of God come to his aid. Hasten to meet him Angels of the Lord.
“Receive his soul and present him to God.
“May Christ, who has called you take you to himself and may the Angels lead you to side of Abraham and Sarah.”
As they prayed, Fr Schick’s human family who had surrounded him with love and support were gathered with the priests and they prayed “may the Angels lead you to the side of Joseph and Abbie (Chris’ parents) and all those who loved Chris during his life”.
Father Chris was born on April 10, 1958, the second-youngest of 15 children, to a Baralaba couple, Joseph and Abbie Schick.
He entered the Pius XII Seminary and is remembered as being a tough footballer and extremely fit. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 1, 1982.
He has served the diocese as a priest in Rockhampton at the Cathedral, Bundaberg, Barcaldine, the Dawson and Callide valleys and again at the Cathedral.
A spokesperson said Fr Schick connected with the life of the diocese and creatively immersed himself into the ministries and apostolates.
Fr Schick’s enjoyed gathering people together and, using the gift of an infectious personality, led them to the one that gave him life, Jesus Christ.
He enjoyed a good night out singing and telling yarns.
At a vigil on August 2, vicar general Fr Bryan Hanifin said he lived less than five minutes from the Mater so he was able to visit on Fr Schick often.
“I would usually arrive at 7am bringing coffee. The conversation came around to death and dying,” he said.
“Chris realised he had to do this himself; but I assured him, he would not be alone for this part of the journey.
“We would sometimes celebrate Mass together, just sitting in the chapel.
“It was wonderful to concelebrate with him and Fr Frank Gilbert in the presence of Bishop Michael (McCarthy) and (Fr Schick’s) family on his ordination anniversary, July 1. This was in the Mater chapel.
“Most mornings I would wheel him around the grounds of the Mater until he tired.
“In this time together we prayed, we prepared this vigil liturgy and his funeral liturgy tomorrow.
“We became more aware that when the tent we live in on Earth is folded up, there is a house built by God for us – an everlasting home in the heavens!
“It has not been an easy journey for Chris. I admire him for accepting the pain and suffering which he endured.
“Chris is home with Christ in whose priesthood he shared and celebrated.
“May Martha, who was known for her hospitality welcome him home and celebrate their faith in Jesus as the Resurrection and the life.”
Bishop McCarthy delivered the homily at Fr Chris’ funeral.
“The Gospel of Matthew clearly invited the community of disciples to ‘Go’ and if we were to pick anything of Chris’ life, it was to ‘Go’ and embrace life with enthusiasm,” he said.
“The Chris I knew did this wholeheartedly.
“When I asked him to go to Blackwater fortnightly, he embraced the challenge and was loved.
“Life for Chris was to immerse himself into the life of people.
“Chris immersed himself into the ministry at The Cathedral College and the Cathedral parish and to the ministry of Murri-wodja.
“I remember last Easter as he sang the Exultet, thinking as he finished the song that in 2018, Chris will be leading the people of the Capricorn Coast. Now he has joined the heavenly choir.
“Chris did listen to God and did not forget, and his action was pure and unspoilt religion.
“He came to the help of people in hardship. Chris was a simple man and uncomplicated.
“What you saw is what you got. Chris’ main task was to assist whenever he could. This was working for God.”
Bishop McCarthy expressed his sympathies to the Schick family and the community of Rockhampton. Fr Schick was interred in the North Rockhampton Cemetery.