On July 23 this year, the bishop was principal celebrant at a Mass in St Margaret Mary’s Church, Merrylands, celebrating Fr Bray’s golden jubilee of ordination to the priesthood.
He recalled then that when he visited Fr Bray in hospital last year there was a queue of parishioners waiting to make their confession to him as he lay on his sick bed.
“How pleased must be St Margaret Mary Parish that this indefatigable pastor has made of her church a centre for confession, catechesis and devotion for the diocese of Parramatta and beyond,” Bishop Fisher said.
Fr Bray, parish priest at Merrylands since 1980, died on August 27 after suffering a heart attack. He was 73.
He undertook his priestly studies at St Columba’s Seminary, Springwood, and St Patrick’s Seminary, Manly, before being ordained to the priesthood on July 15, 1961.
His priestly appointments included being on loan to the diocese of Aitape, Papua New Guinea (1962–1967); assistant priest at Tempe (1968); Blacktown (1968070); on loan to the diocese of Aitape (1971–73); Mt Druitt (1974–77); Mt Pritchard (1977–79).
He was assistant priest at Merrylands in 1979, and became parish priest in 1980.
Parishioner and friend Damir Terkes described Fr Bray as “a true missionary” not only in Papua New Guinea, but also in his priestly endeavours at Merrylands.
“Like his heroes, the Cure of Ars (St John Vianney), Fr Joseph Kentenich (founder of the Schoenstatt Family Movement) and St Augustine, he was a tireless worker who put the needs of his parishioners above his own,” Mr Terkes said. “Even in his illness Fr Bray celebrated at least two Masses a day, some days even more than that.
“He heard countless confessions, promoted Catholic doctrine as the Church teaches it, especially in areas of family and life, and up to his very last day visited the sick giving out the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, and his final priestly act – hearing the confession of a cancer sufferer.”
Mr Terkes said Fr Bray “was renowned for not taking days off”.
“On a day off he would still say two Masses and visit the sick,” he said.
Fr Bray was a “priest, friend, mentor, leader and counsellor to many”, he added.