Fr Vincent Batchelor died in Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne on 28 May at around 5:30pm in his 96th year. He had been living in Nazareth Care Camberwell, under the care of the Sisters of Nazareth. Camberwell is a suburb of Melbourne. Father Vincent had a fall after which the staff decided to send him to hospital for observation. The doctor suspected that the fall was brought on by a heart attack. He had been visited by his sister Mary and niece and Fr Ray Scanlon who kept in constant contact with him and with Fr Gary Walker, the Regional Director of the Columbans in Australia and New Zealand, that afternoon. He died shortly after they left.
Gunbower Creek, Cohuna, Victoria [Wikipedia]
Vincent Batchelor was the fifth child in his family of five brothers and four sisters who grew up in Cohuna, in country Victoria on the Victorian side of the Murray River.
He joined the Columbans in 1938 and did his Spiritual Year and philosophy at St Columban’s, Essendon (above), a suburb of Melbourne, but had to travel to St Columban's, Omaha, Nebraska, USA (below), for theology in 1941 where he was ordained on 21 December 1944.
On returning to Australia Fr Vincent held a variety of roles: Asian students' chaplain, parish work, Director of Spiritual Year for Columban seminarians. In 1967 he was appointed to Fiji where he stayed for 40 years serving in parishes, as a teacher and chaplain to Xavier College in Ba and chaplain to the De Montfort Brothers who took over Xavier College from the Columbans. His work as a hospital chaplain was legendary. He returned to Australia and retired to St Columban’s, Essendon, until he needed nursing care.
Xavier College, Ba [Facebook]
He had little interest in money or possessions and once sold his car after a cyclone in Fiji to buy food and essentials for people who had lost everything. He was clear in his desire to be a missionary, always willing to accept whatever appointment was asked of him. He was childlike in the best sense and God’s word was revealed in him as the many emails we have received testify.
His funeral was on Thursday morning 2 June at the chapel in St Columban’s, Essendon; he was buried in the Columban plot at Melbourne General Cemetery. His coffin was wrapped in ‘tapa’ a traditional barkcloth used in the Pacific on important occasions such as burial. Fijian people sang hymns at the chapel and the graveside. It was very appropriate. May he rest in peace.
Singing during Mass, Fiji
Obituary by Fr Gary Walker, Columban Regional Director, Australia and New Zealand.