Death of Fr Rod Bray


Rev Fr Rod Bray
Rev Fr Rod Bray. Photographer: Shelly A Barnes
The Catholic Diocese of Parramatta lost one of its much-loved priests with the death of Fr Rod Bray on 27 August 2011.

Fr Bray was Parish Priest of St Margaret Mary’s Parish, Merrylands.

Only one month earlier, he had celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood with a Mass of Thanksgiving followed by a parish gathering.

Born on 4 April 1938 in Strathfield Parish, his schooling was at Mary Immaculate Primary, Manly, St Martha’s Primary, Strathfield, and St Patrick’s College, Strathfield.

He trained for the priesthood at St Columba’s Seminary, Springwood, and St Patrick’s Seminary, Manly.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Gilroy at St Patrick’s Seminary on 15 July 1961.

Fr Bray’s first priestly appointment was on loan to the Diocese of Aitape, Papua New Guinea from 1962-67.

Returning to Australia, he was Assistant Priest at Tempe (1968), Blacktown (1968-70), on loan to the Diocese of Aitape again from 1971-73, then Assistant Priest at Mt Druitt (1974-77) and Mt Pritchard (1977-79).

He was appointed Assistant Priest at Merrylands in 1979 and Parish Priest in 1980.

“First and last, a priest of Our Lord Jesus Christ”

Fr Rod Ray News Story
On 23 July this year, the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, was the principal celebrant at a Mass of Thanksgiving for the golden jubilee of Fr Bray’s ordination to priesthood: (from left) Fr Bray, Fr Andrew Bass, acolyte Peter Carroll, and Bishop Anthony. Photographer: Shelly A Barnes.

On 23 July this year, the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, was the principal celebrant at a Mass for Fr Bray’s Golden Jubilee of ordination to the priesthood.

The Bishop said that in a half century of priestly service, Fr Bray was an inspiration to the vocations of other priests, a herald of the coming of the Lord, and a missionary pastor to Merrylands and beyond.

The Bishop recalled visiting Fr Bray in hospital last year where there was a queue of parishioners waiting to make their confession to him as he lay on his sick bed.

“How pleased must be St Margaret Mary Parish that this indefatigable pastor has made of her church a centre for confession, catechesis and devotion for the Diocese of Parramatta and beyond,” the Bishop said.

Close friend Fr James Tierney had known Fr Bray since they were both studying for the priesthood at Manly. “His preaching has always been instructive, that is, catechetical,” he recalled.

Fr Tierney recalled how much his friend had loved his time as a missionary in Papua New Guinea: “After his ordination, Fr Bray went on loan to a Franciscan Diocese in PNG. His first six-year stint there left an indelible stamp on him. It enriched his experience as a pastor of souls and of the wider Church.

“After six years, Fr Bray was back in Australia in various Sydney parishes from 1968-1971. Permission was granted him for three more years in New Guinea. He wanted to spend his life there.”

Fr Tierney described Fr Bray as a priest “in the traditional Irish style, friendly and respectful. The precedent is in the homely Catholic poetry of Msgr Hartigan (John O’Brien), author of Around the Boree Log.

“First and last, Fr Bray was a priest of Our Lord Jesus Christ. No higher tribute can be paid to him than that. He lived and exercised that priesthood faithfully for 50 years.”


Bishop Anthony's Homily - Funeral Mass of Fr Rod Bray, 2 September 2011

News Story: Funeral Mass of Fr Rod Bray

Fr Rod Bray Requiem Mass Photos

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