Bishop John Gerry was loved because he spoke with people “heart to heart and loved them with Christ’s own intimacy”, his funeral at The Cathedral of St Stephen heard today.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge said Bishop Gerry was among the first people he spoke with when he was appointed to the Archdiocese in 2012.
“I asked him what he thought was the most distinctive quality of the Archdiocese of Brisbane,” Archbishop Coleridge said during his homily.
“In reply John said simply ‘pastoral intimacy’, citing words of Fr Tom Boland. However true that is of the Archdiocese, it was certainly true of John Gerry, in whom there emerged more and more through the years that sense of pastoral intimacy.”
Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Cathedral to farewell a man who became the first priest trained at Banyo to be named a Bishop.
The funeral heard about Bishop Gerry’s achievements particularly in welfare policy, including the development of Centacare “which has flourished because of the foundation he laid”.
“I once said to John that I was puzzled why he wasn’t given a diocese of his own through the years, given how many vacancies there had been,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“But he looked at me smiling and said: ‘That wouldn’t have been my thing’. And, he meant it.
“Perhaps he was right – perhaps the kind of pastoral intimacy that marked his priestly life wouldn’t have flourished best as a diocesan bishop.
“But it did flourish in Brisbane and beyond through the more than 40 years of his service as Auxiliary Bishop; and for that we give thanks to God.”
Bishop Gerry’s solemn funeral rites included vigil prayers last night at St Brigid’s Church, Red Hill and concluded with the rite of Christian burial at Nudgee cemetery.
“We pray that he journeys safely and reaches the far shore of Easter where the light never fails,” Archbishop Coleridge said in his homily.
“There the table will be set for the banquet of the Lamb, and how John will enjoy it when Jesus finally invites him to take his seat at the table. He always loved a good meal, and now the time has come for the best of them all … only the finest food and wine and company at the feast which God has prepared for those who love him, as John surely did.
“Eternal rest give to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.”