It did not take long for the news of Monsignor Bryan Maurice Long’s passing to reverberate throughout the many parishes in the Diocese of Sandhurst where he had served.
The news eventually reached the shores of Perth, where his nephew and the rector of St Charles’ Seminary, Guildford, Mgr Kevin Long, quickly made plans to travel to Bendigo in order to co-celebrate his uncle’s Funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo, on 21 October 2015.
Mgr Bryan Long passed to the Father during the early hours of Monday, 12 October 2015 at Bentley Aged Care, Bendigo, after a remarkable life lived in the service of the Catholic Church.
Born on 24 November 1928 to parents Mary and James Long, Mgr Long was the youngest of seven boys and one girl. He undertook his primary school education at Knowsley State School in Victoria before boarding at St Patrick’s College, Ballarat from 1942-45 for his secondary education.
In answer to a strong calling to the priesthood, Mgr Long entered Corpus Christ College in Werribee in March 1946, at the age of 18, to embark on his priestly formation and was eventually ordained on 26 July 1953 in St Mary’s Help of Christians, Heathcote.
This momentous event in Mgr Long’s life gave way to a series of appointments to numerous parishes that made his a well-known name among Victorian Catholics.
St Kilian’s Parish in Bendigo, where he initially served as chaplain from 1956–1963 and as administrator from 1980–2003, is undoubtedly one of the places where Mgr Long will be remembered more fondly.
At the beginning of his second time of service in Bendigo, Mgr Long was also appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Sandhurst in 1980, a role which he honoured until the mid-1990s.
In November of the same year, Mgr Long was granted a Prelate of Honour by the now St Pope John Paul II.
Other appointments saw Mgr Long serve in the parishes of Numurkah (1953-1956); St Therese, Kennington (1963-1965); St Joseph, Benalla (1965-1971); Tallangatta (1971-1976), St Joseph, Cobram (1976-1979) and Holy Rosary, White Hills (1979-1980).
Throughout his vibrant life-journey, Mgr Long also served as Diocesan Consultor, a Trustee of the Roman Catholic Trusts’ Corporation and Chaplain to the Catholic Women’s League.
Delivering the homily for his Funeral Mass, which was celebrated by the Bishop of Sandhurst, the Most Reverend Leslie Tomlinson, Mgr Kevin Long described his uncle as a “dearly loved brother, brother-in-law, uncle, relative and friend, but above all for each of us, a holy and faithful priest of the Diocese of Sandhurst”.
Mgr Kevin Long went on to speak of the impact that his uncle had on his family and the hundreds of families he ministered.
“We, his family and brethren, witnessed Bryan’s uncomplicated and deep faith, gently but firmly, pointing us towards the Resurrection. His presence made real for us those words we have just heard from St John’s Gospel: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I shall not turn away.
He also drew attention to his uncle’s faithfulness to the Church throughout the modernising changes to the Catholic Faith during the Second Vatican Council – changes which would have been quite confronting for a priest accustomed to “old ways” of celebrating Mass and running a parish.
“Throughout all the trauma and signs of real life since Vatican II, Bryan Long remained faithful to his sharing in Christ’s priesthood.
“He was and shall remain for me, as I am sure he will for you, a man of profound prayer, priestly devotion and absolute integrity. His breviaries are ragged and worn. His Rosary beads tarnished and often repaired. His diary full of obligations.”
Mgr Kevin Long’s further explanation of how his uncle dealt with the changes taking place in the Church seem to capture the essence of the man’s true spirit.
“What did remain important for Bryan was the simple question, ‘would this change deepen his parishioners’ relationship with the Lord Jesus?’ Bryan’s priestly style preached Christ, not himself. Our first reading captures it perfectly: Blessed are those who die in the Lord! Now they can rest forever after their work, since their good deeds go with them.”
The burial of Mgr Bryan Long took place shortly after the Funeral Mass at Bendigo Cemetery.