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Clarity, humour and love until the very end. We reflect on the life of Br Paddy

Posted on 18 May 2021
Clarity, humour and love until the very end. We reflect on the life of Br Paddy

Br Patrick McInerney (Paddy) of the St Joseph's Community Queensland passed away peacefully on the 26 April. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Thursday 6 May. The Relection of Br Tim Peter and the Eulogy of Paul McInerney (Nephew) is below.


Paddy's Reflection - by Br Tim Peter

God has been very good to us allowing Br Patrick to be with us these many years. We can no longer think about our own lives without thinking about him. Paddy belongs to us all especially to the many generations of Papuan New Guineans, he served so faithfully for over 30 years.

And God has been good to him to the very end of his life. After a short conversation with him last Monday week 26th April he asked the nurse if he could have some water; we both held the glass, Paddy took a couple of sips, closed his eyes and passed to the Lord waking up to the dawn of a new day.

With great clarity, humour and love until the very end, Paddy participated in community life and did those small things that we took so much for granted. There were always clean tea-towels and place mats ready for use in the linen cupboard, which had been left in the laundry waiting for him to do the honours! Oftentimes Paddy was congratulated by passers-by on his maintenance of the front garden. They no doubt never saw the bruises and scratches sustained in the fight with the bougainvilleas.

God also enabled him to see clearly his own circumstances and gave him the strength and courage to accept them as part of his journey through life. And while we are sad today that he is no longer with us, we should never forget how thankful we are to our good God for knowing this wonderful person. Paddy throughtout his long life continued to grow in wisdom and grace so quietly nurtured his hidden life in Christ allowing the light of the children of God to shine brightly in the simple and ordinary events of daily living. Paddy was truly faithfully kind.

In his letter to the Galatians St Paul outlines a cluster of qualities that are signs of the actions of the Holy Spirit. What the Spirit brings is very different; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22). On their own these qualities would not be life-giving but living with a little bit of each and perhaps emphasizing one of these fruits we have a recipe for living a deeply human life. Brother Patrick, from his years of meditating and reflecting on his first and principal rule, the New Testament, leaves a final witness on kindness and gentleness.

We are often kind and gentle to those we love, especially those we would see as family but knowing in faith that God has no favorites, Christians are expected to see all members of the human family as our sisters and brothers. Kindness lived faithfully calls us to be like Jesus who left a story for our constant reflection on how to treat others who are different from us, whom we might see as our enemies, this story we know well as the Good Samaritan. It would seem to me that what kept Brother Patrick growing in his life hidden with God was his conviction to be kind faithfully.

Paddy has left us both heritage and wisdom. He was a man who set a tone of strength through humility and steadfastness. Paddy loved, lived, learnt and taught by example He trusted in God and could never have predicted his legacy-those he influenced and taught.

Brother Patrick's work in the inner-city as well as country classrooms and those he helped in the towns and countyside in Papua New Guinea contained only the barest minimum in learning space and would attract the adjective "poor" as the best description. Paddy's work with young people was rich in terms of the fruits of the Holy Spirit making all he came in contact with "aware of their dignity and to live and to be recognised as human beings and children of god."

Farewell Paddy, Brother Patrick, God's good and gracious servant, minister and ambassador of Jesus Christ, deep listener to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, enter joyfully into the kingdom prepared for you, rejoicing in a job well done!


Uncle Syd - By Paul McInerney (Nephew) 

Early life

  • Born 13 November 1927 to James and Ines McInerney in Orange, NSW
  • Younger brother of Don and older brother to Jim
  • Less than two years difference between Don and Syd
  • Syd and Don shared many experiences in early life and this contributed to the closeness of their relationship
  • Jim is nearly 11 years younger than Syd. Don and Syd had been boarding for 2 years before Jim was born
  • In Orange he attended school with the Mercy sisters and the De La Salle brothers


  • Their father James was a first world war veteran
  • James was invalided due to injuries received in action at the front in France
  • Neither Syd, my father nor my grandmother would say anything about their life at home during this time, I think the demands of caring for James as his health deteriorated is what prompted the decision to send Syd and Don to board at the new school the De La Salle were opening at Cronulla in Sydney
  • Syd and Don were the school's first students, starting there in 1936
  • At school Syd was an eager participant in all sports on offer at the school, including football and sailing
  • It was also where he developed his great love for swimming and surfing
  • He used to attend the pool at Coogee (Wylie's Baths), run by returned Olympian Mina Wiley, and listen to coaching advice which he would later practice
  • He also became friends with fellow Cronulla student and Champion lifesaver Bob Johnson. Syd said that Bob would win every race and the rest of them were swimming for second place
  • All of us have memories of Uncle Syd and the beach
  • At the end of school, just 17 years old Uncle Syd began his life's work as Brother Patrick, when he joined the De La Salle Brothers

Brother Patrick

  • Nanna told me once that the Brother's were now Syd's family and she had accepted this
  • I have learnt some things about Syd's life with the brothers, having got to spend time with him in recent years.
  • Many things I can't know. He did tell me once that when he first learnt of his posting to PNG he was reluctant to go. Once there however, he fully embraced the country, the people and the mission. For all of us Uncle Syd and PNG are forever linked.
  • Chinook helicopter on school oval. "Oh, and while you are here would you please lift this pre-fabricated roof onto our new building"
  • A favourite observation was that in PNG they have 2 seasons, the wet season and the wetter season.
  • Apparently he never got to master speaking pigeon English but could understand it
  • Therese teaching in PNG got to visit Syd in Bomana in what she described as Syd's natural place

Family reminiscence

As Syd's relatives, our contact was sporadic, occurring about every 5 years when he was at home visiting his mother, either in Orange or later on the Gold Coast.

Speaking with our relatives, there were several common themes that defined our interactions with Uncle Syd:

  • Papua New Guinea. His love of and commitment to his work there was apparent to all of us. Therese told me that it was Syd's inspiration for her to apply for a teaching job at St Joseph's International School in Port Moresby. For the rest of us it was the stories, exotic presents and wonderful stamps that we remember.
  • Education. He was a passionate educator and was always interested in those of us who have gone into education.
  • Surfing and swimming I have already mentioned. Jim told me that Syd's lessons in the surf probably saved his life once or twice.
  • All the nieces and nephews remember Uncle Syd at Nanna's house, showing great patience with us, playing games, telling jokes and stories and especially his laugh.
  • There were always good treats at Nanna's place but some extra ones when Uncle Syd was home. Ginger beer was always present.
  • Duncan summarised for me, Uncle Syd was a happy, jovial, loving and caring man.

Reflecting on Our Uncle Syd, Br Patrick or just Paddy, I am left with the conclusion that his life was a prayer, and that his acceptance of a life of service to the brothers and others gave him a rich, varied and fulfilling life, filled with challenges, but also joy and fun. He will be missed.

May he rest in peace.


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