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Fr Canali’s legacy continues 100 years after death

PRIESTS and lay Catholics remembered an “honoured figure” whose life not only shaped grand buildings but also vocations in the Brisbane archdiocese.

Fr Joseph Canali, an Italian architect affectionately known as the Apostle of Brisbane, was invited to Brisbane by the archdiocese’s first episcopal leader Bishop James Quinn to complete St Stephen’s Cathedral.

His work on the Cathedral led him to the priesthood and a myriad of pastoral ministries, including work at the then Brisbane General Hospital.

He died 100 years ago due to injuries sustained by a tram accident, but his legacy lives on in Brisbane, particularly among men discerning the priesthood.

Many of these men, who lived in a discernment home named after the Italian priest, visited Fr Canali’s grave at Nudgee Cemetery for a special anniversary celebration on the centenary of his death on August 16.

The men were joined by staff from the archdiocese’s office for vocations, Queensland seminarians, and former and current residents of Canali House.

Vocation Brisbane director Fr Morgan Batt said Fr Canali’s legacy has fostered numerous leaders in the Church, both in ordained and lay ministries.

“Fr Joseph Canali is an honoured figure in the history of the Archdiocese of Brisbane,” Fr Batt said.

“His legacy extends even before ordination to the priesthood.

“As an architect brought to Brisbane from Italy by Bishop Quinn, he oversaw the completion of St Stephen’s Cathedral and many other projects.

“However, it is his humble and enduring ministry as a priest which endears him to the memory of the people of Brisbane.”

Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital chaplain Fr James O’Donoghue also held a celebration Mass for Fr Canali at the hospital’s chapel.

Fr O’Donoghue, who is based at Hendra parish, said the chapel was “overflowing” with past staff, hospital executives, representatives from the Catholic Italian community and the Sisters of Mercy.

Fr Canali’s official biography, written by retired priest Fr Patrick Tynan, was also released for the centenary.

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