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Fr Adrian Meaney remembered as a man of great faith who wanted to ‘help the poorest of the poor’

Devoted to mission: Fr Adrian Meaney opening the Chevalier Study Centre in India in 2011.

December 15, 1933 – February 6, 2019

MISSIONARIES of the Sacred Heart Father Adrian Meaney, who died in Sydney recently aged 86, was remembered as a man with a great passion for helping the poor. 

“I want to do as St Therese of Kolkata spent her life doing, to help the poorest of the poor,” Fr Meaney once said. 

Fr Meaney always acknowledged his parents, Jim and Margaret Meaney, as having the greatest influence on his Christian faith. 

Both Jim and Margaret came from strong Irish stock with a lively Catholic faith. 

Fr Meaney once described them as “wonderful beyond words”. 

When he was five, his father was appointed to Harrisville railway station 70km west of Brisbane. 

It was an ideal location where the whole family could set up home together in the railway house. 

The only school in the district was the Harrisville State School, which Adrian attended. 

At home the family prayed the rosary together every night. 

Mass was only once a month, but Adrian and his siblings were given religious instructions by Miss McEnery in a rail carriage in the goods yard.

It was at Harrisville that Adrian had his first taste of fundraising.

There are many reports in the Queensland Times newspaper that mention “little Adrian Meaney” as a champion fundraiser. 

Fr Adrian sang “please give me a penny sir” on stage in the halls throughout the district. 

The audience, which often included Australian and American troops from Amberley Airforce base, would throw pennies on stage. 

During one campaign alone, Adrian had individually collected 10-pound through his singing – approximately $800 in today’s money. 

After seven years at Harrisville, the family was on the move and over the next eight years was based at locations thousands of kilometres apart at Ingham, Mt Isa, Nambour, Mackay and then back to Brisbane.

While the family was located at Nambour and Mackay, Adrian attended boarding school at Nudgee College.

One weekend, Adrian participated in a retreat at the local Catholic youth group led by Father Bill Smith, the rector at Banyo seminary. 

It was during a break that Father Bill asked Adrian if he had ever thought of becoming a priest, to which Adrian replied “I think everyone considers that idea from time to time”. 

Father Bill then asked, “If you did become a priest, what kind of priest would you like to be”? 

Adrian replied “a far- away priest” meaning a missionary priest.

At the time, Adrian thought that might be the end of it, until one day he received a letter of invitation asking him if he might be interested in joining a Missionary congregation. 

Adrian had never heard of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, but what he read attracted him. 

After discussing it with his family, Adrian decided to give it a go. Adrian left Mackay and embarked on his life’s journey with the MSC’s.

In 1961 Fr Meaney was ordained priest at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane in 1961 alongside his brother Fr Basil Meaney. 

After the ordination, Fr Meaney’s first overseas posting was to Papua New Guinea, and it wasn’t long before his father Jim was organising fundraising activities for the youth club in Port Moresby. 

Fr Meaney’s entire family took up the opportunity to visit him during his various postings.

He touched many lives and was a great role model and motivator. 

He could always be counted on to provide frank and trustworthy advice and guidance to anyone who asked.

Fr Meaney loved his work with the MSCs, just like he loved his own family. 

He was a wonderful brother, uncle, cousin and friend who loved life, and always filled family gatherings with laughs and stories.

Words from Fr Meaney’s eulogy given by his brother Damien Meaney

Written by: Guest Contributor
Catholic Church Insurance

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