A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Fr Fred Bliss sm

Fr Frederick Michael Bliss sm
Born in Havelock North, 20 February 1935
Professed 24 January 1958
Ordained 10 July 1961
Died at Silverstream, 15 February 2017

Thanks to Fr Jim Dooley sm, for this edited version of his eulogy.

Fred once told me that only his mother ever called him Frederick, and that was only when she was scolding him. To the rest of us, he was Fred or Freddie, and today, I want simply to pay a sincere tribute to him -- a good friend, an outstanding fellow Marist, and a man who was greatly loved and admired by his family and a host of wonderful and loyal friends.

Fred was a very gifted man. He was blessed with some wonderful personal qualities. He had great warmth, grace, dignity and charm. You who are family and friends will know his kindness and generosity, and the absolute loyalty, respect and commitment he had in his friendship with you. Those friendships were enduring, and they were mutual.

Last year when I visited Fred, when he was quite ill, his ’phone went more than ten times while I was there, people asking how he was doing, and wanting to know if they could visit or help. Each call was received warmly, and Fred was clearly touched by the care and kindness of his family and friends.

Fred never took the kindness of friends for granted. He knew how to respond so that you always felt and knew his gratitude. He appreciated all of you deeply, and treasured your friendship. Thank you for all you did to let our Freddie know that he was loved and cared for.

Yes, he was our Freddie, ours of the Society of Mary. Fred was first and foremost and passionately a Marist. He was brought up in a Marist parish and educated at Marist colleges, at St John’s and at Silverstream.

When he entered the seminary at Greenmeadows in 1955, he began a life of total commitment to his vocation, and to the life he loved in the Society of Mary. He brought with him, great energy and enthusiasm for Marist life. He brought wisdom and vision, and he absolutely embraced the spirit and charism of the Society.

Over the next 61 years, Fred made an enormous contribution to the Church in New Zealand, and to the apostolic works of the Society. He had a huge influence on the faith formation and Christian living of so many people, young people in the colleges, his own confreres, lay people and religious, Catholic and non-Catholic, here in this country, as well as around the world, especially in the 20 years that he worked in the university in Rome.

Within his Marist family, Fred was held in high esteem. In community, he was good company, fun to be with. His gifts and talents were quickly recognised, and he was given positions of leadership and responsibility. He was outstanding in his roles as teacher, rector, provincial and lecturer. Authority and responsibility sat easily on his shoulders, and he was competent and comfortable in all of those leadership roles.

Today, I want to acknowledge Fred Bliss as one of our great Marists, a man of whom we are immensely proud, a man whom we admired for his outstanding gifts and achievements, a man whom we will remember with great fondness and affection.

Freddie, you will always have a special place in our hearts. May you rest in peace.


1962-1971 St Patrick’s College, Wellington

1972- July St Bede’s College, Christchurch

1972-1973 Catholic University of America

1974-May St Augustine’s College,
Wanganui, Rector/Superior

1974-1980 Silverstream, Rector/Superior

1981-May Marist Renewal, Maryknoll

1981-1985 May, Provincial, Wellington,

1985 (May-Nov) Seminary Extension,
Wellington, Superior

1986 Sabbatical

1987 Mount Street, Wellington,
Victoria University Chaplaincy

1987 Sept-1988 Aug, Rome (studies)

1988 Sept-1991 St Patrick’s College,
Wellington (Rector)

1991 (May-Aug) Greenmeadows
(thesis studies)

1991 Sept, Rome, thesis work and
chaplain to FMS Brothers

1991-2014 Lecturer in Ecumenism,
Angelicum, Rome

1992 awarded doctorate
Florida USA - 3 months supply over many summers

1995-2001 resided at Pontificio Collegio Beda, Rome

2012 resided at Pontificio Collegio
Filippino, Rome

2014 Aug, retirement, Napier

2017 Jan, Home of Compassion,

Tagged as:

2 Responses »

  1. I remember Father Bliss from my time at St. Pat's in the 1960s. He was a popular teacher, who did what was required to get ideas across to the students. I don't recall him ever being angry or upset.
    I'm glad I learned a bit more about his career from the eulogy. He was truly a great teacher.

  2. I first met Fred when we were studying Ecumenism together at the Angelicum in Rome in 1987-88, and we remained firm and steadfast friends ever since. Everything that is said in this beautiful and simple eulogy is so true. Simplicity, in the utterly profound and straightforward sense of the term, was one of Fred's hallmarks. So too was that gift of communication, which made him such a great teacher and wonderful friend. I used to visit Fred any time I was passing through Rome, on my way to or from Africa or, more recently, Jerusalem. We would share meals, friendship, and wonderful conversation together; Fred was great company, always wonderfully well-informed and interested in all the people around him, and so unfailingly encouraging. He was steady as a rock, and someone you could always rely on. I learned a great deal from Fred, and admired him greatly. He was hugely appreciated by his many students, and deeply committed to the ecumenical movement all the time I knew him. His was a steady, committed, common sense approach to ecumenism, overflowing with sound judgement. Nothing fancy, no crazy ideas, no lime-lighting, but steady as she goes, deceptively simple yet immensely profound. It is sad to hear of his passing, yet his many friendships will never die but now continue ever more deeply, in new and ever more fruitful ways. Thank you, Fred, for everything you were to me, and still are, and to so many others as well. You have been and remain such a wonderful friend. Rest in peace, and enjoy the heavenly banquet. In the Risen Lord, Yours Ever, Bill .