Bill Crahan - Canberra-Goulburn

6th November, 2011

A generation of Irish priests who came to serve in Australia were owed an unpayable debt of gratitude, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said at the funeral of one such priest, Fr Bill Crahan.

A concelebrated funeral Mass for Fr Crahan was held at St Augustine's Church, Yass, where he was parish priest for 14 years before he retired in 2002. He was buried in the grounds of St Augustine's.

Fr Crahan, who was 84, was the second last survivor of a contingent of Irish priests who came to the Archdiocese after World War 2.

“There was much about him that was typical of a certain generation of Irish priests,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“They could be clannish; they could hard to read; they could be severe; but they were faithful pastors, men with hearts of gold and deep faith beneath an at times crusty exterior. 

“As we bury the second last of these men today, I am conscious that we owe them an unpayable debt of gratitude.”

Archbishop Coleridge said it was “strangely right that we bury Fr Bill in Yass – not only because this was his last parish before retirement, but also because this was one of the truly seminal places in the story of the Church in this part of the world. 

“Here was the epicentre of the Yass mission, which stretched way down to Port Philip; from here, priests – most of them Irish-born and most of them young – rode out untold miles through the bush to serve their people. 

“They were not always easy characters, but they were devoted pastors. Bill didn’t ride out through the bush on a horse, but he did ply the highway in a modest car, doing what his Irish forebears had done on the Yass mission, ministering to his people in ways made possible by the faith of the Irish people and the traditions of the Irish priesthood. 

“The kind of priesthood that Fr Bill Crahan embodied is passing or has already passed. 

“But we can only hope that the seed we plant in burying him in Yass will yield in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn a harvest of pastors of a different kind but no less faithful than Bill Crahan.”

Born in Wilkinstown, Navan, Co Meath, he was ordained on 28 February, 1953, in the Basilica of St John Lateran, Rome.

His first position in Australia was as assistant priest at Temora in 1954. He went on to serve at Boorowa, Crookwell, Young, Bega, Pambula, Gunning, Goolagong and Braidwood. He was appointed parish priest at Delegate in 1970 and moved to Jugiong, Gundagai, North Goulburn and finally Yass.

Father Bill Crahan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn died in late December last year. May he rest in peace.

Report taken from "Catholic Voice," Archdiocesan Catholic Newspaper.

  • Created: 01 February 2012
  • Modified: 01 February 2012