The man who taught our family about faith

Ann Rennie is a Melbourne writer

He was the deep anchor of the family – my father. A bookish medical man that we seven little Australians often thought would have made a good priest because he was so interested in theology and church issues and was an avid reader and letter writer to The Advocate in the old days. On his desk stood a bust of Daniel Mannix, the influential Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne who lived to 99 and opposed conscription.
My father's study was full of books about religion and ethics and the odd political biography. I never saw him read a novel.

My mother was the one who supervised prayers and went through the catechism questions and made sure we went to confession on a fairly regular basis. Here we would own up to pinching a sibling or four, fibbing to sister about completing homework, or having mean thoughts about the girl in class who possessed the elegant Derwent set of 24 pencils, while we made do with the small stubby six-pack of primary colours from Coles.

But it was my father who gave each of us 20¢ to put on the church collection plate. It was he who quietly sent money to the missions in India. It was he who believed in the birthright of each and every child. It was he who worked hard to send us to Catholic schools because he came from old-school Irish stock and believed in the faith of the fathers. It was he who was black and white on some issues and guided by his conscience on others.

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