Fr Gerard (Gerry) Peter Dore died in Brisbane on 19 March 2012 aged 82 years.
Reflection given by Fr. Rod Ward at the Vigil - 24 March 2012
Fr. Gerry began his seminary training at Banyo seminary in early 1949. He was initially a student for the Archdiocese of Brisbane. A couple of months later, at the request of Bishop Ryan and with the approval of archbishop Duhig of Brisbane he changed to the Townsville diocese. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Sacred Heart Cathedral Townsville by Bishop Hugh Ryan on 29 June 1955.
His early appointments were to the sacred heart cathedral. He later went on to appointments as parish priest of Collinsville, Railway Estate, Abergowrie, Richmond and Hughenden, Bowen and Ayr/Burdekin Valley. He was appointed administrator of the Mundingburra parish from 1970 to 1975.
He resigned on 29 February 2000 and lived in retirement at Northgate in Brisbane.
Fr Gerry held a number of other diocesan appointments, including those of Consultor, Life and Ministry, Senate of Priests, Chancellor, Diocesan Secretary, Pastoral Council, a number of Priest Support Funds and on the Building and Sites Committee.
He served as chaplain to the Hibernian society and from 1990 to 1996 served as Chaplain to the Queensland Police Service.
Fr Gerry, I am told, played the piano for fun and had a fine singing voice, being appointed to the position of Choirmaster at Banyo Seminary. He was proud of his heritage of being a Gregory Terrace College Old Boy and would return to the college for major historical events.
He had a reputation for modernising presbyteries including those at Collinsville and Mundingburra. While at Mundingburra, cyclone Althea destroyed the convent building. Fortunately, army personnel were doing a cleanup of the area and obliged by removing the convent building in its entirety. I am told there was only bare ground left. I think Fr Gerry may have opened the gate to let them in. There was a suggestion by some priests that Fr Gerry should be kept moving so that he could progressively do up other presbyteries.
Throughout his ministry, Fr Gerry developed a reputation for being kind and considerate, for being compassionate to the sick and for being generally caring of others. He was known to have been supportive of families of men from Townsville who were in formation in the seminary. It has been mentioned that he was considered a role model by some considering vocation to the priesthood.
He was noted to have enjoyed the celebrations of his Golden Jubilee.
I knew Fr Gerry in Townsville during his ministry. I came to know him very well after he moved to Brisbane on retirement. He was living in the Hendra parish in Brisbane, where I was working. He would regularly relieve Fr. Jim Spence, who was the parish priest. He would regularly celebrate two masses each week. I remember him speaking severely to teachers after a primary school mass after they had students dancing down in the procession of the Book of the Gospels. At least they did not do that in the future when Fr Gerry was the celebrant.
Fr Gerry, in retirement, also took an intense interest in psychiatric ministry, attending several courses and spending Wednesday of each week in this ministry. He would regularly come to me and want to discuss some complex psychiatric issue. We shared quite some time together.
Gerry lived in retirement with his sister Gabriel, in the house at Northgate. From my visits, I found them to be great support for one another. Eventually, sister Gabriel developed her own health problems and Fr Gerry’s health also deteriorated significantly. Gerry spent much of his last weeks in a nursing home or in hospital. I was able to visit him on two occasions during January, and while his health was rapidly deteriorating, his mind and his conversation remained clear.
We thank Cheryl and Lynn, who provide support for the priests in Brisbane for taking such good care of Gerry and for journeying with him during those times of deteriorating health. We also thank Father Dave O’Connor and Father Jim Spence for their care and support for Gerry during his time in Brisbane and particularly during those last months.
Vale, Gerry – may he rest in peace.
Summary of the Homily given by Bishop Michael Putney DD at the Funeral Mass - 26 March 2012
I visited Fr Gerry just over a week before he died.
I did not know him as a colleague but only as a priest I had met in Townsville when I visited over the years. He had retired already when I became Bishop of Townsville.
He came back a number of times to visit and I visited him in Brisbane, sometimes in hospital. I also had many phone conversations with Fr Gerry either because he rang to offer his greetings or I rang to see how he was going.
On my last visit he was surrounded by many friends from school, priests, and others.
He laughed a lot, though there were serious moments when we talked about how he was dealing with dying.
The Good Shepherd described in today’s gospel died for us. He will be with us as we die and so we need have no fear of death.
Priests are given a share in this pastoring (shepherd) role by ordination. Fr Gerry tried throughout his life to be faithful to this ministry.
And he was very emphatic that he did that here in Townsville, and for fifty years.
He continued to minister in Brisbane in retirement, as the letter of Fr John Chalmers testifies, and the message of Bishop Finnigan.
His story was told last night at the Vigil. There is another story only glimpsed momentarily. It is the grace of God, the love of Jesus Christ, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit given and accepted in all the ups and downs of his life. No one does this perfectly but we are all saved from ourselves by God’s love, grace and gifts. Gerry no less than anyone. And we all become a gift of love and grace to others because of it, as he did.
Many are grateful for Fr Gerry’s ministry. Priests are called to do ordinary things well and with affection. That is all that is normally asked of us, and Fr Gerry did that all his life. The Good Shepherd became present to others though him.
I am conscious of him at home with the Good Shepherd now, commenting very directly on the quality or otherwise of my words; as he did before he died, on my capacities as a nurse when I had to help him to eat.
We are grateful to God for him and we pray for him that the Shepherd will take him deeply home to where all of us truly belong.
MOST REV MICHAEL E PUTNEY
Bishop of Townsville