RETIRED Brisbane priest Fr Joe McGeehan died on August 14, aged 84.
Fr McGeehan had battled cancer for some time, but still enjoyed reasonable health and remained living at home where he died.
The middle child of Joseph and Edith McGeehan’s three children, young Joe’s early days were spent in Atherton, North Queensland.
The family then moved to Esk, and finally to Banyo.
While living at Esk, young Joe boarded at Downlands College in Toowoomba.
His popularity saw him named School Captain, as well as leader of a number of its premier sports teams.
He began studying at Banyo Seminary in 1956 and was ordained in 1963, one year later than most of his original cohort.
Fr McGeehan’s first posting was as a curate at Cannon Hill parish.
He then went to Childers and Dutton Park.
His first appointment as Parish Priest was in Murgon, followed by two stints at Gympie, another foundational role at Birkdale and a final posting to Wavell Heights before retirement.
Retired Rockhampton Bishop Brian Heenan, a seminary classmate, first met Joe as an opponent on sporting fields, but well understood why people were drawn to him.
“Joe had a profound love and respect for absolutely everybody so I think that’s how he’ll be remembered,” Bishop Heenan said.
“Nobody was left out, everybody was special; whether that be his school friends, the parishioners he worked amongst or religious brothers and sisters.
“He also had an extraordinary memory for names and for people and it’s no doubt why he retained so many friendships.
“I think his special focus though was always the priests, something he probably took from the MSC Fathers at Downlands.”
With Archbishop Francis Rush’s blessing Fr McGeehan took on a full time role in “Ministry to Priests” for six years, visiting clergy as a support or arranging retreats and seminars to underpin their pastoral roles.
Jubilee parish priest Fr Gerry Kalinowski remembers encountering Fr McGeehan in this role, first as a listening ear, but later as a mentor when joining the ministry, which continues today, 35 years later.
“He was a great priest; someone you could talk to and who was always interested in what was happening in the parish as well as your own life,” Fr Kalinowski said.
“Whether it be spending time together and supporting each other through very simple things like the sharing of a meal together, sharing time and place and what was happening.
“There was also a support group that formed so we could have a day off as a group and go for a walk or play cards, solve the problems of the church and the world.
“Joe was quite willing to get in and to be a part of it and even up until these last months he was thinking about attending the support group.
“He had his sense of humour and continued to have that all the way through, but he was always very passionate about people and the church in their lives, and how they lived and celebrated that.”
Fr McGeehan was also pivotal in founding the St Peter’s Centre for Priests Renewal in Canberra, which operated from 1982 -1993 and saw more than 300 priests participate in the three-month course.
Fr McGeehan is survived by his sisters Ruth and Edith, who were devoted and ever-present in their care for him.
His Funeral Mass is to take place at the Cathedral on August 20, you can watch it here from 10am: http://archbne.org/bzw