Beloved Victorian priest and media figure, Father Bob Maguire, passed away today at 88 years old just days after being ousted as Chair of his own charity.
In a statement posted on Friday, the Father Bob Maguire Foundation board said the priest had voluntarily stepped down from his role and would have “ongoing input into our program and services” but Fr Bob alleged he was ‘blindsided’ by the decision when speaking to the media.
The foundation said Fr Bob’s physical and mental health had been declining and confirmed he was rushed to Cabrini Hospital for a blood transfusion today where he later died.
“Fr Bob was a dear and much loved member of our family and will be sorely missed for his energy and good humour,” they wrote in a statement.
“His physical and mental health had been deteriorating for some time but his preference was always to help others rather than consider his own situation.”
His passing comes just days after Fr Bob uploaded his last Facebook video on Thursday from the Balwyn aged care home he was residing in for respite care, reassuring his followers about his condition and claiming to be going home “very soon”.
“I’m just sending out a little reassurance to you that everything’s alright with me, in fact, I’ll leave this place soon – very, very soon,” Fr Bob said in his video.
“… I’m on the right track, I’ve got [my] legs back and all kinds of good things happening.”
Fans and supporters have already taken to social media to commemorate Fr Bob’s life, including New South Wales Premier, Chris Minns.
“Our nation has just lost a hero. The people’s priest. A social justice warrior. And a man who dedicated his life to faith and standing up for those most vulnerable. Vale Father Bob Maguire,” he wrote on Twitter.
A relentless social justice campaigner and fighter for the underdogs, Fr Bob was commonly known as the “people’s priest” after dedicating his life to charity and helping poor and marginalised members of society.
He was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1960 at age 25 and clashed with the Catholic church on many issues over the years.
Father Bob was parish priest of Sts Peter and Paul’s Church in South Melbourne from 1973 to 2012 and launched the Father Bob Maguire Foundation in 2003, as a “loud and passionate advocate for the voiceless and forgotten”.
In 1989, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to homeless youth.
He was named Victorian of the Year in 2011 and received a Victorian Senior of the Year Ageing Well Award in 2022.