A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Death of a Marist

Fr (John) Patrick McCann SM

Born in Hastings, NZ: 2 March 1930
Professed: 2 February 1948
Ordained: 18 July 1953
Vow of Stability: 15 August 1987
Died in Lower Hutt, NZ: 28 February 2020

Fr Pat had a long and full life, directed from the beginning by the love of his family and his strong faith in God. Both, in a real way, were expressions of the other. God’s love was felt in his family upbringing, and his family expressed and lived out the love of God in their day-to-day life.

He was the son of John and Mary Ellen McCann and the older brother of Sr Mary RSJ and Brigid. Pat was educated by the Sisters of St Joseph and the Priests and Brothers of the Society of Mary at the newly-established St John’s College in Hastings.

His first appointment after ordination was to St Patricks College in Wellington, which marked the beginning of his 25 years as a teacher, 18 of which were at St Pat’s. He also had shorter spells of teaching at St Augustine’s, Whanganui; St Bede’s, Christchurch; and St Patrick’s Boys’ High School in Timaru.

He taught mainly maths and science but also had an interest in music, both in directing choirs and being involved in school musicals in various colleges. He had a very good singing voice. He was a man of generosity and enthusiasm, always willing to help out when needed.

I was taught chemistry by him in Timaru in 1978. He was a methodical and clear teacher in the classroom and quite strict on discipline. He has been described as having a quiet but pleasant presence in the Marist communities where he lived, generous and wanting to be involved in things. He was known to be an avid reader with an encyclopaedic memory, and it was said that “he knew everything about everything”.

In 1979 he moved out of teaching ministry and was appointed to the parish of Whangarei. People there have many fond memories of him as a gentle and kind man, especially in his hospital chaplaincy work. He was a good preacher and people enjoyed his homilies.

From 1980 to 1986 he was at the Society of Mary General House in Rome, as superior of the community. His friendly and cheerful manner was much appreciated in the house. Pat had a love of languages and Rome was a place where he could put his energies into learning Italian. Returning from Rome in 1987, he was appointed to Mt Albert Parish and then to the community at Flaxmere in 1989 and 1990. After a short time in Tokoroa with Bishop Takuira Mariu and supplying in Thames, and other parts of the North Island, he returned to Whangarei in 1992.

In 2000, Pat’s generosity and openness to a variety of ministries showed itself again in his going to the Tyburn Monastery in the Bombay Hills in South Auckland, as chaplain for 14 years. It was what he called ‘a retirement ministry’, which allowed him to be part of the prayer and liturgical life of the monastery and attend to the spiritual needs of the nuns. Again, he was faithful and generous with his time, always preparing his homilies well.

In 2014, at 84 years of age, he retired fully from active ministry and went to live at the Marist community at Marian Court at the Home of Compassion in Upper Hutt. There he kept contact with his many friends, including Sr Frances and the Brigidine sisters.

He had a long and good life, enriched and defined by his family, friends, his faith and his Marist vocation. It took him to many parts of New Zealand and around the world, yet his real pilgrimage was about following the Lord wherever he was asked to go.

Now his earthly pilgrimage has ended. And so, today we pray that you rest in peace, Pat.

1954 – 1955 : St Patrick’s College, Wellington
1956 : St Augustine’s College, Whanganui
1957 – 1958 : St Bede’s College, Christchurch
1959 : St Patrick’s College, Wellington
1960 : St Augustine’s College, Whanganui
1961 : St Patrick’s College, Wellington
(full-time university)
1962 – 1975 : St Patrick’s College, Wellington
1976 – 1978 : St Patrick’s High School, Timaru
1979 – July 1980 : Whangarei Parish
July 1980 – September 1986 : Rome,
superior, SM General House
1987 – 1988 : Mt Albert Parish, Auckland
1989 – 1990 : Flaxmere and Hospital Chaplaincy
1991 – July : Whangarei
July – October 1991 : Tokoroa, with Bishop Takuira Mariu SM
October 1991 – January 1992 : supply at Thames, Coromandel Peninsula
1992 – 2000 Whangarei Parish
2001 – 2014 : Chaplain, Tyburn Monastery, Bombay, Auckland
2014 May – 2020 : Marian Court, Silverstream

Thanks to Fr Patrick Breeze SM for this abbreviated version of his eulogy.

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1 Responses »

  1. I had only met Fr. Pat McCann twice but he impressed me. He will be praying for us as we for him. RIP.