The late Fr Bob Maguire was posthumously recognised as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) at this year’s Australia Day awards.
Fr Bob, one of Australia’s best-known Catholics before his sad passing in 2023, was recognised for distinguished service to the community, particularly through his social welfare initiatives and organisations.
He notably served as parish priest at Sts Peter and Paul’s Church in South Melbourne for almost 40 years and was well-known as the founder and executive chairman of food relief and social charity organisation, the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, from 2003 until his passing in 2023.
“The Fr Bob Maguire Foundation and Father Bob’s family are delighted with the news that the late Father Bob Maguire has been further recognised for his decades of dedication and inspirational work with—as he called them—the unloved and the unlovely,” the foundation said in a statement following the award.
“A part of Father Bob lives on through people who support his Foundation. We can’t duplicate his energy, but we can model ourselves on his optimism and his sense that any sort of problem-solving starts with a communal sense of responsibility.
“Father Bob’s work was certainly an inspiration to so many people, local, statewide and Australia wide, that local communities are dedicating themselves to being inclusive, accepting and focussing on the many who are less fortunate.
“He believed that we are all products of our history, and that too often individuals suffered from deprivation—both material and emotional.
“Father Bob had a philosophy which sought out need and acted to try to satisfy it. He gave a public voice to those who didn’t have one; to promote a public debate about the disadvantaged without judgment and without blame.”
Fr Bob was previously appointed a member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for service to the homeless and disadvantaged youth through the Open Family Australia organisation, of which he was co-founder and former chair from 1981-2006.
He was given the Victoria Local Hero Award in 2005 and was made Victorian of the Year in 2011, before retiring in 2012.
He passed into eternal life on 19 April last year and received a state funeral at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne on 5 May.