By Jamie O’Brien
Hundreds of parishioners of St Mary’s Cathedral and Catholics from across Perth have last weekend marked the end of an era with the retirement of Monsignor Michael Keating as Dean.
Mgr Keating celebrated his final Mass at 11am on Sunday 28 January, and was joined for the occasion by Assistant Priests Frs Brennan Sia, Jeffey Casabuena, Conor Steadman and Deacon Bruce Talbot.
The Mass was also the farewell celebration for Fr Sia who is heading to Kalgoorlie Parish to take on the role as Administrator.
The 78-year-old Perth born Monsignor Keating will take a short holiday before moving to the former cottage of Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey.
In speaking of his retirement as Dean, Mgr Keating insisted he would still be active in his priestly role.
“I have been so very blessed during my time here as Dean, it has been a great privilege and honour to serve all who come to our beautiful Cathedral,” Mgr Keating said.
“We have a beautiful Cathedral and I will remember my time here and all that has taken place, but especially the people who have welcomed me and given me so much to be grateful for in my role as Dean,” he said.
Born in Perth, Mgr Keating was educated at St Louis Jesuit College in Claremont and then Aquinas before finishing his education at St Charles Seminary.
At the age of 19, Mgr Keating travelled to Rome where he spent the next several years undertaking studies in Italian, Greek and Latin.
Graduating from Propaganda Fide College with a Masters in Theology in June 1963 after being ordained to the Diaconate in June 1962, it was during this time that Mgr Keating served as an official with the first session of Vatican II.
“I realised at the time how important it was to be involved with Vatican II,” he said.
“I was charged with looking after a whole group of bishops, taking attendance cards and assisting with voting,” he said.
Mgr Keating was ordained to the Priesthood on 22 December 1962, spending the next few years completing a Doctorate in Canon Law in Rome, which he finished in 1966.
It was during this time that he went twice to the United States to study at various tribunals in Boston and Los Angeles.
In 1966, he returned to Perth where he served as Assistant Priest at Cottesloe Parish and then Northbridge.
In 1974, he became Parish Priest at Mirrabooka St Gerard’s Church before becoming Parish Priest at Highgate Sacred Heart Church in 1984 and also Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Perth.
He served in the role full time as Vicar General from 1997 until 2000.
Mgr Keating then became Parish Priest at Bateman St Thomas More Church, taking on the role as Dean in 2009.
With somewhat hundreds of experiences during his priestly life, Mgr Keating recalls his near death experience in the US as one of the most significant.
The experience happened when a Sunday afternoon swim at the beach nearly turned into the then 25-year-old getting caught in a rip and nearly drowning. Thankfully, he recalled, he was saved by a lifeguard.
Mgr Keating recalled that he still wears the medal to this day that identifies him as a priest from Perth, Western Australia.
“I am so very grateful for all the staff of the Cathedral Office that I have worked with during my time here and I look forward to the next part of what the Lord has planned for me,” he said.
“I also thank Archbishop Costelloe and Emeritus Archbishop Hickey for their support, guidance and co-operation,” he said.