Father Bob Maguire is one of our most unheralded and truly Australian heroes.
They say that the mould was broken when “the fiery priest of the downtrodden” was born. He, throughout his life, has never stopped questioning the establishment – political or religious.
His unusual style has, for example, greatly contributed to the success of the recent SBS TV series John Safran vs God. Father Bob’s segment was the highest rated of all the segments, with hundreds of e-mails and phone calls all congratulating Bob on his appearance. Father Bob is also a frequent guest on radio: in fact he had his own show for years on Radio 3AW in Melbourne. These days the younger generation enjoys his wit and thoughts as a permanent guest on the ABC’s youth-oriented Triple J radio station on Sundays.
He is also an eminently experienced public speaker – the thousands of sermons delivered throughout the years contributed to this of course! -, he has been in demand as an aspirational, inspirational, and most importantly, motivational speaker to both corporate and political events. He has the rare gift of bringing out insights most anyone would miss; all the while spinning a good yarn.
Father Bob deserves all accolades possible – and even more -, in addition to all his good works, at the age of 76 he continues assisting with local community programs, is a patron of the progressive arts organisation Dance World, runs various organisations, entities and charities entrusted to his care and remains a strong leader of both his congregation and the wider community.
Parish: After working as an army chaplain in Melbourne during the Vietnam War, Father Bob became the parish priest of South Melbourne in 1973. One of his first initiatives in the then working class suburb was the establishment of Open Family Australia in 1978. Open Family has since become a national organisation, giving hope and re-connection to children living on the streets. As Open Family’s Chairman, he has been an outspoken advocate of the poor and disadvantaged.
Charity: Next he established the Emerald Hill Mission, a broad reaching charity for all disadvantaged in and around South Melbourne; then in 2005 came Beyond Care, established to battle the indifference of society to the ‘no hopers’ who are beyond the care of other charities.
Recognition: Father Bob was awarded the Order of Australia in 1989 and in 2003 was named Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southern Region of Australia for a Social, Community or Not for Profit Organisation.