- Published: Thursday, 14 February 2019 23:51
ADRIAN FRANCIS MEANEY MSC (1933-2019)
This pen and photo portrait of Adrian was sent by a correspondent for this site
Born: 15th December, 1933 (Teneriffe, Brisbane)
Parents: James Aloysius Meaney (Bauple, Qld) & Margaret Mary Whelan (Koroit, Vic)
Siblings: Basil (d), Carmel & Damien
Childhood homes: Teneriffe, Harrisville, Tully, Ingham, Mt Isa, Nambour & Mackay
Novitiate: 1954 (Douglas Park)
Magnificent Seven: Russell Andersen, Kevin Barr, Paul Castley, Michael Fallon, Adrian Meaney (d), Patrick Sharpe, Brian Taylor (the only year to have all members, ordained and intact until Adrian’s death)
Novice Master: Fr Paddy “Brickie” McGuane
Profession: 22nd February 1955 (Fr Mortimer Kerrins)
The Meaney Family: Front row (L to R): Margaret (mum), Damien & James (dad);
Back row (L to R): Adrian, Carmel & Basil
1955-1961: Croydon Monastery (received during this time at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne: tonsure and the minor orders of porter, acolyte, exorcist, sub-deacon and deacon)
Ordination: 29th June, 1961 (St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane with brother Basil, Paul Castley, Russell Andersen and other QLD religious and diocesans)
Pastoral year: 1961-62, Sacred Heart Monastery, Kensington (attached to Annals office, part-time tropical medicine course at Sydney Uni with Brian Taylor)
1962-1971: Port Moresby, PNG (first appointment)
1971-1972: Darwin (secretary to Bp. O’Laughlin)
1972-1981: PP, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish, Alice Spring
1981: EAPI course, Manila, Philippines
1981-1982: Gerehu, PNG
1982-1989: Boroko, PNG (PP and Vicar General. Papal visit of JPII in 1984)
1989-1990: Bereina, PNG
1990-1997: Koki Point, PNG (2nd Papal visit of JPII in 1996)
22nd March, 1998 – 6th February 2019: MSC Mission Office, Kensington
MSC Mission Office
Had it not been for that fateful letter with the papal seal, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart would most likely never have arrived in Australia. In 1881, the Society still in its infancy with only a handful of men at his disposal, Father Founder Jules Chevalier, in his reply to Cardinal Simeoni, humbly submitted to Pope Leo XIII’s request and formally accepted the mission to Melanesia and Micronesia. The rest, as they say, is history. Many great missionaries have since come and gone, giving of themselves selflessly to grow and develop the MSCs into the largest male religious order in Australia. Much is owed to those that have come before us, yet amongst these greats, perhaps none has kept his eyes as firmly fixed or maintained the level of zeal for the founder’s original vision as Adrian Francis Meaney - the man affectionately known across the MSC world as ‘Fr Christmas’ - to deliver the Good News and minister to the needs of some of the poorest and most marginalised people on earth. The following is an excerpt from one of the earliest editions of the Mission Outreach Newsletter in which Adrian explains the origins of the movement:
“Five years ago, a group of MSC Priests and Brothers spent a week together at a retreat centre near Cairns. They came from Japan, India, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Fiji and the Northern Territory of Australia. Among the recommendations made was to establish a ‘MSC Mission Office’, whereby our missionaries might be supported by prayer, co-workers and financial assistance. At the same time there was the desire to inform and support others in their missionary calling. Now after three and a half years, with the help of volunteers and the support of the Provincial Office, we are up and running. We work with the people of good will, and assist others no matter what is their creed. Of course, we are Catholic to the core and seek inspiration from the Holy Spirit who led Jesus.” AFM
Having already served with distinction a total of thirty-six years in PNG and the NT, Adrian single-handedly devised, built and marketed the most efficient not-for-profit Catholic charity organisation in the whole of Australia - all in his retirement from the monastery in Kensington. In just over twenty years, the Mission Office has raised in excess of $20million for Clean Water, Disadvantaged Youth, and Health projects; extending his outreach beyond our pacific neighbours to include South East Asia, the Sub-Continent, Africa and parts of Central and South America. It has truly become a global movement, impacting on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the margins.
To call Adrian ‘colourful’ would be an understatement – he had certainly established a formidable reputation as being one of the most polarising MSCs in the entire province. Although he talked the talk, he most certainly backed it up by walking the walk. He was one of the hardest working and most compassionate of men, often showing more concern for the missions than the MSCs born and raised in those countries. He celebrated private mass early each morning, giving thanks to all the generous benefactors who made his work possible. He was renowned for taking on work others shied away from: raising money for the poor, organising functions and events, caring for sick and ailing missionaries, looking after visiting confreres, supplying to any parish, wherever and whenever. To the volunteers and staff: he was a fiercely loyal and most generous leader. He shouldered all responsibility, and accepted the idiosyncrasies and personal circumstances of each individual with understanding and care. A man with a mission – driven by a flame that burned so bright, it was impossible not to catch fire.
In his later years he suffered terribly from a long list of illnesses and ailments. Each time he was struck down he bounced right back up, bigger and better than ever. Adrian was a true fighter – not a silky-smooth tactician but a brawler who had the stamina to go the distance. It was his way or the highway, yet the Spirit was with him because he did it for the right reasons. To the people in the missions he was their life-line – a guardian angel, giving them a fighting chance at a better life. Who, now, will care for the poor?
Although his earthly flame is now extinguished, Adrian’s Spirit burns brighter than ever as a star in the heavens, watching over us and urging us all to “have a go!”.
He has run the good race. May he rest in peace.
Did you know?
- He worked part-time at Pleystowe Sugar Mill in Mackay before entering
- He always had a high regard for Muslims
- He attended Nudgee College, Brisbane
- He once preached before former President Robert Mugabe and gave First Communion to his daughter in South Africa
- He loved listening to James Valentine on 702ABC
- Pope John Paul II used to call him ‘Adriano’
- Was awarded ‘Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia’ for services to the people of PNG
- His favourite foods: soups and omelette
- His favourite fruit: chilled PNG pawpaw (preferably from Daru)
- His favourite city in the world: Jerusalem
- He loved the spirituality of Francis de Sales
- He looked up to and respected John Savage, Darcy Morris, Mortimer Kerrins, as well as Jim Cuskelly and Dennis Murphy
- He is related to Terry Bowman
“My advice… is that we should either not utter words of humility, or else use them with sincere inner feeling that matches our outward words. Let us never lower our eyes except when we humble our hearts. Let us not appear to want to be the lowest unless we want it with our whole heart. I take this rule to be so general that I allow no exception to it.” – Francis de Sales (Introduction to the Devout Life).