Following the passing of the beloved Father Bob, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has suggested a state funeral be held to honour his life and legacy.
Father Bob passed away at the age of 88 on Wednesday, April 19.
Andrews plans to hold discussions with the family of Father Bob to explore various ways to commemorate his outstanding contributions to the state.
“I’ll have some more to say about a state funeral and the way in which we can celebrate his rich life, a very generous life, a life of compassion and faith and so much more,” Andrews said.
“It’s a sad day today. He was just a marvellous, marvellous person.
“I very much enjoyed his company and I think, as so many Victorians do, that we are poorer for his passing.”
Andrews expressed that the desires of Father Bob’s family would be the foremost consideration in guiding the actions of the Victorian government.
When Father Bob led his final mass, more than a thousand of his comrades packed out his South Melbourne church.
They were there for Bob – because Bob was always there for us.
But he wasn’t done yet.
Retirement wasn’t Bob’s style. pic.twitter.com/IIdgZ9QnCx
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) April 19, 2023
Following news of the suggestion, a groundswell of support from the public was expressed in favour of a state funeral to pay homage to Father Bob.
You only need a quick glance at the torrent of tender tributes flowing in for Father Bob to learn how truly loved he was. A hero for the vulnerable, a beacon of humanity, an irreplaceable friend who was the essence of generosity. May he be honoured with a state funeral. RIP Bob. pic.twitter.com/ES8QKdy4uS
— Sahar Adatia (@sahar_adatia) April 19, 2023
If anyone deserves a state funeral, it’s Father Bob. Please make it happen.
— Ginger Cat (@Neko_Akage) April 19, 2023
I know it’s his family’s decision.
If there’s a person that deserves not just a Vic state funeral, but a federal memorial state funeral hands down is Father Bob.
I’m far from Religious, but father Bob believed in all and the value of a greater community for all.
— JEFF (@Jeff_Perth_WA) April 19, 2023
I hope Father Bob has a state funeral. If anyone deserves it, it is him
— Carmel Hards..???????? ???????????????????? (@albsie) April 19, 2023
Although many were in favour of the move, 3AW’s Neil Mitchell claimed “that’s not what Bob was about”.
“If it’s going to cost $200,000 or $300,000 to put on a state funeral, put that money into Bob’s work, not some funeral for important people to go and be photographed,” he said.
Affectionately known as the “people’s priest”, Father Bob Maguire was widely known for his remarkable work in advocating for social justice and aiding the underprivileged which made him a revered and respected figure both in Australia and beyond.
His family revealed that his “physical and mental health had been deteriorating for some time” while announcing his passing in a statement. Despite his poor health, his family stated that “his preference was always to help others rather than consider his own situation”.
“Fr Bob was not just a much loved family member but was loved by all Australians for what he stood for. He has fought bravely for the underprivileged and homeless all his life. He represented the highest of principles, and he fought to actively live those principles,” the statement read.
“Despite his high profile in the media, he was always on the job, especially for the disadvantaged families and individuals for whom he had great love and compassion. He wanted nobody to be left behind and always saw and believed in the good in people, but he knew that there were many whom he referred to as the unloved and unlovely. These were his real passion.
“The last few months have been very difficult for both the family and for those around Fr Bob as we managed his declining health. We thank all the medical staff who have attended him in recent months and express our gratitude to them for their work and devotion.
“We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time.
“The family will make appropriate funeral arrangements in due course.”
In the wake of Father Bob’s death, an overwhelming expression of sorrow from both the general public and high-profile figures alike quickly followed. Many lauded him for his unwavering commitment to advancing social justice and promoting the welfare of the community.