11 January 2017

Columban Fr Keith Gorman RIP. 'Having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity.'

Fr Keith Gorman
(21 January 1920 - 19 December 2016)

Keith Francis Gorman was born in Brisbane, Queensland, on January 21, 1920, an only son between two sisters. In 1937 he came to St Columban’s, Essendon, where he did his Spiritual Year and Philosophy. Then in 1940 he went to St Columban’s Seminary in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, to do Theology as WWII prevented him from travelling to Ireland. He was the first Australian Columban seminarian to do this but he was joined by others the following year. He was ordained in St Joseph’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, USA, on 18 December 1943 by Bishop John Aloysius Duffy. 

Church of the Assumption, Yakatamachi, Wakayama City [Source]

In 1944 Father Keith returned to Australia and worked in a number of parishes until 1948 when he was appointed to China but this was changed to Japan after a few months in Shanghai. He studied the Japanese language in Yokohama and was then appointed as pastor at the parish of Chigasaki, Diocese of Yokohama. After vacation in 1955 he was appointed pastor at Yakatamachi in Wakayama City.

Fr Barry Cairns, a New Zealander, writes about his experience as a young priest in Yakatamachi with Father Keith here.

In 1964 Father Keith was appointed to the Australia - New Zealand Region, stationed at first at the Columban House in Toowong, Brisbane. Then he did parish supplies for three years and Columban promotion in the Archdiocese of Perth.  This was followed by a few years as Bursar at the seminary in Turramurra, New South Wales, and then as Vocations Coordinator in the state of New South Wales.

Father Keith the gardener

In 1975 Father Keith began a ministry to the aged as chaplain at Nazareth House Aged Care, Turramurra. After a sabbatical and some studies in the subject of ageing he continued in this ministry as chaplain to the retired Presentation Sisters at Windsor in Melbourne.  Around the same time he helped to found ROTA - Religious of the Third Age - a social and spiritual organisation for retired Religious. During this period he wrote a number of articles on the theme of ageing, some of which were printed in The Far East.

Embracing the 21st Century

Read Father Keith's Old Age, a Gifted Time.

Father Keith himself retired to St Columban’s, Essendon, a suburb of Melbourne, in 1997 and was a lively and cheerful presence there until a fall in September 2012 resulted in hospitalisation and a subsequent move to Mercy Place Aged Care, Parkville.

'A humble man with time and respect for everyone'

He is remembered as a humble man who always had time and respect for everyone. He excluded no one. He was fun-loving and always ready to laugh, share a joke – even one on himself – and join in whatever was going on. In one of his articles he wrote that his idea of heaven was having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity, following the scene in John 21.  May he be enjoying that breakfast now. 

'Having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity' [1:57 - 2:50]
From The Gospel of John directed by Philip Saville.

You may read some of Fr Gorman's Reflections here.

St Columban's, Essendon

I met Father Keith on my first visit to Australia in May 1990 in St Columban's Seminary, Turramurra, near Sydney, which is now closed. I was struck by his delightful personality and sense of humour. I remember him laughing when I quipped that he had been ordained so long ago - the year I was born - that the ceremony had been in Aramaic! I met him again in Essendon in 2009 when I was doing mission appeals in Melbourne. While I was there he won a very large TV in a raffle in a nearby Anglican parish and his delight was utterly childlike when it was delivered.

And what a beautiful image of heaven he had: Having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity

The light of heaven upon Father Keith  - and may we all join him with Jesus for breakfast on the shores of eternity when our time comes!

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