The last of the Mt Lawley Brophys, Patrick John Brophy, was born on 22 February 1926 to John and Helen, was brother to Helen and Frank, and joined them all in eternal life on 10 July 2015.
A long-term resident of the Mt Lawley parish, which the family moved into in 1928, Pat was also one of two St Paul’s acolytes in the first Perth intake in 1974.
He was also active on the parish council, in the choir, as editor of the parish newsletter for 25 years and as parish caretaker, together with his brother.
The parish history states of the brothers that “they are good and faithful servants of their God, through their service to the priests and people of the Mt Lawley parish”.
Following is the unedited homily delivered by parish priest Father Timothy Deeter on the occasion of Pat’s funeral at St Paul’s on 16 July 2015.
The author Henry van Dyke portrayed death in this way:
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
And I stand and watch her,
until at length she is only a ribbon of white cloud,
just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says,
“Look there! She’s gone!”
Gone from my sight, that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living freight – to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
“Look there! She’s gone!”
there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout,
“Look there! She’s coming!”
And that is dying.
Pat Brophy was very conscious of the fact that we are on one shore of human existence, but there is another shore, somewhere in the distance, where our loved ones have been gathering, one by one, and waiting for that day when we shall join them.
Every January, Pat would submit to me a list of all his loved ones, living and dead, whom he wanted remembered at Mass on the occasion of their birthday or the anniversary of their death.
Last Sunday at 9.30am, the Mass was offered for Helen Brophy, Pat’s mother, on the 67th anniversary of her death. Next Wednesday at 5.45pm, the Mass will be offered for John P Brophy, Pat’s father, on the 90th anniversary of his death.
Pat never forgot anyone; I only hope there is someone to have a Mass said for Pat on the anniversary of his death.
He was very aware of the need to stay linked to one another, both in life and in death, standing on this earthly shore, but always keeping an eye on that distant shore as well. For Pat, the closing words of the Nicene Creed were very true: I look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
For people who have no Christian faith, death is, as St Paul said, just a folding up of the tent: for more and more people, death is the end of the story. That is why so many funerals simply focus on the life that is past: the funeral is “a celebration of a life” that is over, but there is no sense of prayer about the ongoing existence both of the person who has died, our own existence. It seems that we live in a society without hope in the future.
But that was not the case for Pat Brophy: he, and all of us who believe in Christ, look not only to the past; we also look to the future.
As the Preface of this Mass will remind us in a few moments, for those who believe, life is changed, not ended. At the same time that we might be mourning a loss, there are many others in the next life who are rejoicing in a gain. While we are here on the shore, saying “Look there! Pat’s gone!”, others are on a distant shore, saying, “Look there! Pat’s coming!”
The very fact that you have gathered here to pray shows that you have faith in God, even though at times faith can be small, and even weak. Life can be difficult, and some are tempted to give up; but we sang with confidence those immortal words of the Psalm:
Yea, thought I walk in death’s dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill:
for Thou are with me,
and Thy rod and staff me comfort still.
Pat Brophy was not a legislator or a tycoon or a celebrity; yet he was a man who has left his mark because he was kind, altruism and loving nature.
As he moved along in life, one after another of his little family group passed on, until Pat was left on his own. But he didn’t give up; he stayed in touch with us in the parish, and he stayed in touch with the Lord. He was faithful to the end: he was here for Mass every weekend, right up to Sunday the 5th of this month, the Sunday before he died.
He also stayed in touch with the wider community. I remember well, many years ago, working at my desk late at night, or driving home from an evening appointment, listening to the radio program NightLife with Tony Delroy. This older man would ring in several times a week to answer questions on the quiz program, but invariably he would preface his answer with commentary on some current social issue or offer a clarifying point of history or religion.
The caller identified himself as ‘Pat of Mt Lawley’, and I always wondered who he was. Twelve years after arriving here in Perth, I finally found out. I was newly installed as the priest here at St Paul’s, and that first weekend I received an email offering me a lengthy historical perspective on the parish, plus a list of maintenance issues and a commentary on my homily. The email address was email@example.com and thus began a six-year correspondence with Pat Brophy.
If you have taken a moment to look over the items on the table, you will find Pat’s First Holy Communion certificate, a medal of membership in the Archconfraternity of the Holy Family, and the certificate of his installation as an acolyte. He also has in hands in the coffin not one, but two, Rosaries – he loved Our Lady so much.
Atop his coffin right now are his crucifix and his Bible; he lived in faith, he loved St Paul’s Parish and St Paul’s School. He served us on the Parish Council and the Finance Committee, singing in the choir, producing the parish newsletter and serving at the altar as an acolyte.
The words of today’s First Reading are truly his own:
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He will at last stand forth upon this earth.
I myself shall see Him – my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold Him, and in my flesh I shall see God my Saviour.
My inmost flesh is consumed with longing for this.
This is a moment for all of us to reaffirm our belief in a God who loves us, a God who loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him. We believe in a God who created us for happiness, here on earth. Sometimes our choices in life do not achieve that goal of happiness here on earth. But our God is so good that He provides another place where we can find it.
Jesus reminds us all today: I am going now to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you also may be.
Jesus was born that we no more may die – that is, a death without hope, a death that only looks to the past. As St Paul affirmed, We know that He who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by His side.
I’m sad that Pat is gone from us; I’ll miss his emails and I’ll miss wondering when all the piled-up junk in his room was going to fall down and smother him! We will all miss him, but we must remember that just at the moment when someone at your side says, “Look there! Pat’s gone!” there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Look there! Pa’s coming!”
And that is not dying – that is eternal life.