Fr Michael Hayes farewelled

BISHOP Brian Heenan led the tributes yesterday for veteran priest Fr Michael Hayes, who was farewelled before a packed congregation at St Joseph's Cathedral, and hailed as a saintly man.

Fr Hayes, who was ordained in 1950 and was still attending clergy meetings and annual retreats last year, was described as an extraordinary man, who loved the company of people and could not help but serve others.

"He loved the reality of life, told stories with colour and delight and he had a marvellous sense of humour, sometimes unable to finish the story, through his own laughter," Bishop Heenan said.

"He had a great love for his brother priests and was never happier than among them.

"He loved people to the point of rarely saying no to an

invitation to a gathering - parties were a delight and even in those later years, Mick would front up, both to honour those who had invited him and to enjoy their company. We marvelled at his social life."

Fr Hayes celebrated his 85th birthday last month.

The hundreds who attended his funeral yesterday heard that his inclusiveness knew no bounds.

He had worked with Aboriginal, South Sea Islander and Torres Strait people, with the Filipino community, Japanese students, Indian residents of the Hindu faith, with Asians of Buddhist connections and with Iranian Baha'is.

"Michael functioned as if infused by the words of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, whose heart and ways he matched," Bishop Heenan said.

"Never see a need without doing something about it," he said of Fr Hayes' philosophy.

"Each of us knew and loved him as the one who never forgot anyone or failed to honour a good deed to him... He fought a good fight and a better one as the years progressed. That fight persisted to the end."

Fr Hayes' work took him to Woorabinda, where he had a pastoral ministry and was full time Diocesan Chaplain to the Aboriginal communities.

Bishop Heenan said the rough and tumble somehow appealed to him and often fascinated him.

"Someone recalled to me in recent days, his answer to their query about the origin of his involvement with Aboriginal people."

"Mick replied: 'I love buckjumping and they excelled in it. We formed a friendship on the rough fields of life and have been mates ever since'."

He is remembered in a rehabilitation centre in Rockhampton, named in his honour and in a

Catholic Education award every year through a scholarship for indigenous students.

In 1991 he received the Order of Australia Medal for his industriousness.

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