CATHOLIC LEADER REPORT: PRIESTS in Brisbane archdiocese have paid tribute to the vision, hospitality, pastoral excellence and capacity for friendship of Fr Basil Meaney whose funeral Mass was to be celebrated in St Stephen's Cathedral on Thursday.
Fr Meaney (pictured) died at St Vincent's Hospital, Kangaroo Point, last Sunday (May 29), a month short of the golden jubilee of his ordination to priesthood.
The 81-year-old priest was parish priest at Brighton from 1975 to 1983 and Tewantin (Noosa District) from 1983 to 2003 after which he retired to Bribie Island.
Fr Harry Bliss, whose friendship with the late Fr Meaney spanned 60 years, spoke fondly of long car trips together including one around Australia.
St Stephen's Cathedral dean Fr Ken Howell, who ministered in his internship year alongside Fr Meaney and next as his assistant priest at the then parish of Tewantin, said the popular priest was a "great man of prayer" as well as action.
Fr Howell said Fr Meaney's ordination in 1961 with his brother, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Father Adrian Meaney, had drawn one of the biggest crowds ever to St Stephen's Cathedral.
Fr Clem Hodge recalled him as a "gentle giant" and a mentor figure when he attended Banyo Seminary in 1955.
"He'd been in the workforce as an electrician and had done his senior studies in the seminary the year before, so the rest of us who had come straight from school tended to look up to him," he said.
Fr Bliss said he had first met Fr Meaney at a YCW leaders' conference at Indooroopilly and the friendship had flourished through their seminary years together.
"We would eventually go on two long car trips together - in 1978 going through places like Quilpie and Longreach and to Alice Springs to Basil's brother's parish and then onto Darwin," he said.
"In 1985 we travelled around Australia together in five weeks and three days, covering some seventeen-and-a-half thousand kilometres."
Fr Bliss recalled Fr Meaney as "a great hospitality man".
"Cooking was one of Basil's favourite hobbies," he said.
"He loved putting on a dinner for three or more."
Fr Howell said soon after being ordained, he had gone to join Fr Meaney as assistant priest in
Vale: Fr Basil Meaney Tewantin (now Noosa) parish.
"He was a very effective pastor and always had the interests of the people at heart," he said.
"His twenty years at Tewantin were extremely productive including the renovation of two churches, at Pomona and Cooroy, the building of a new church at Tewantin and a school at Sunshine Beach.
"However, it was not necessarily Fr Meaney's achievements in initiating building projects that people remembered him most for ... rather it was his generosity and pastoral care."
A Vigil Mass for Fr Meaney was to be celebrated at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church, Tewantin, on Tuesday.