By Matthew Lau
“To act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God” – Micah 6:8.
Father Tony Smith SJ died peacefully on 18 February 2018 at the age of 70 after decades of loyal service to both education and priesthood.
A combined attendance of more than 1500 people gathered to pay their respects to Fr Smith at his funeral services at a Vigil Mass at St Aloysius College on 27 February and at St Mary’s Church, North Sydney the day after. He was buried at Macquarie Park Cemetery.
Born Anthony Victor Smith on June 1947, he was the second son of Kathleen and Paul Smith and grew up in Perth with brothers Mark, Peter, Christopher, Stephen and Geoffrey.
Their mother was the eldest daughter of Charlie Perrott, whose brother was Fr Tom Perrott SJ, one of the founding Jesuit priests of St Louis Jesuit School in Claremont.
Fr Smith was a family-orientated person, whose life for his family is best summed up in the words of his niece Claire: “He baptised us, he married us, he baptised our children. There wasn’t a life without Anthony. When we were growing up he was Anthony to us, not Tony”.
Fr Smith went on to complete his Novitiate at Loyola College, Watsonia VIC in 1966. He studied Philosophy at the same school from 1967 to 1969.
He returned to WA a year later to embark on further studies. He completed his high school education at St Louis School, Claremont before attaining on a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Western Australia.
He gained Regency status at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview NSW in 1974 before studying Theology at Jesuit Theological College, Parkville VIC from 1975 to 1978.
Fr Smith was ordained on 3 December 1977 in Perth. His first placement was as Resident Priest at Newman College, Parkville VIC the following year.
From 1979 to 1982, he was a Sports Master and Teacher of Religion and English at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview NSW.
His Tertianship took place at Canisius College, Pymble in 1983 – followed by an Internship at St Xavier High School, Cincinatti, Ohio and a Diploma of Educational Administration at Fordham University, New York.
In 1985, Fr Smith was appointed Vice Rector and Coordinator of Religious Education in Senior School, and Teacher of Religion and Modern History at St Aloysius’ College, Milsons Point NSW.
The pinnacle of his career from 1986 to 2003 was as Headmaster of St Aloysius College, Milsons Point NSW.
He was a Superior at Sacred Heart Residence, North Sydney NSW from 2004 to 2008, before taking on the role of Parish Priest and Minister from 2010 to 2012.
Fr Smith then spent a year assisting with school chaplaincy at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview NSW, while helping out as Chaplain to the Old Ignatians’ Union.
His final years from 2015 until his death in February of this year was spent as part of the pastoral ministry at Arrupe House, Pymble NSW while residing at St Paul’s Residential Care, Northbridge NSW.
Fr Smith’s brother, Peter, paid tribute to his life.
“He loved his family in the West and attended all our weddings, baptisms and funerals. Sadly he died peacefully but too soon. He was better known as an educator but his priestly work touched the lives of thousands throughout Sydney,” Peter Smith said.
“He believed strongly that the future of the church lay with cooperation between the clergy and the laity and he surrounded himself with a very influential lay group. His got great strength and inspiration from his CLC groups and the many friends who assisted him in various capacities.”