Father Bob

Robert John (Bob) Maguire, AM RFD (born 14 September 1934) is an Australian Roman Catholic priest, community worker and media personality from South Melbourne. From 1973 to 2012, Maguire was parish priest of Sts Peter and Pauls Church in South Melbourne. Commonly known as Father Bob, Maguire was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for service to homeless youth through the Open Family Foundation.

A 102-minute documentary, In Bob We Trust, about Maguire life and retirement was released in October 2013

Maguire was born in 1934, the son of a violent alcoholic father, James maguire, who migrated from Glasgow in 1922. His mother, Annie (nee McLaughlin), from Edinburgh, was usually the subject of her husbands beatings, which frequently left her cut, bloodied and bruised. Maguire was the youngest of four children. His only memory of his father taking any notice of him was when hed been away and when he came home, he beat me with his belt. His eldest sibling was Eileen, then Kathleen, then James (Jim) who was eight years older than him, the last child. The family had to move house a number of times when all of the rent money was spent on drink. James Maguire was often found unconscious in the street and his son Jim had to drag or carry him back home. Sometimes their father drank Bay Rum, an oil used in the preparation of mens cologne and toiletries. The family was very poor, and the young Maguire had to borrow his brothers old services overcoat to hide the holes in the clothes he wore to school, and he rarely had socks. He looked up to his long-suffering mum and saw her as a model of Christian piety.

Maguire attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary School in Armadale from 1940 to 1947. He became an altar boy when he turned eight. In 1945, when he was 11, his sister Kathleen died from tuberculosis.

Maguire attended high school at Christian Brothers College, St Kilda, from 1948 to 1953. His father died from lung cancer the year he started school there. His mother died in 1950, aged 61, leaving Maguire orphaned at 15.

Maguire studied theology at Corpus Christi College, Melbourne, where he received his training for the priesthood, beginning in 1953 when he was 18. During this time he was a beekeeper, which he describes as one of the finest periods of my life. He was ordained on 24 July 1960 at the age of 25.

In 1965, Maguire joined the Australian Army Reserve. During the Vietnam War era, as a lieutenant colonel, he was commanding officer of the Character Training Unit for young officers.

From 1973 to 2012, Maguire was parish priest of Sts Peter and Pauls Church in South Melbourne.

The Bob Squad is the Fr Bob Maguire Foundation volunteer fundraising and welfare provision arm which is styled on and inspired by Maguires sense of revolutionary approach to social justice. Its slogan is Viva La Bob and makes many social and pop culture remarks that align it with the fighting spirit of revolutionaries such as Che Guevara and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Father Bob Maguire Foundation began in 2003 in an attempt to gather all my social investments together under one Board of Governance. Maguire started Open Family Australia over 27 years ago.

Supporters Behind Father Bob Maguire

Fans of Father Bob Maguire have shown their support to keep Father Bob in Melbourne. Supporters all over Victoria and those that surround Melbourne came together to show their affection with an army of 250 banded together, four times the usual Mass turnout. As Father Bob turned 75, he was required by church law to offer his resignation, however he felt it was not time.

As he walked down the path inside the church before his service, he was heavily applauded and received a standing ovation. On the other hand, Archbishop Hart released a press statement reading Father Bob needed to go due to financial mismanagement which included selling church property to benefit his ministry to the poor.

Father Bob remains adamant that he did not sell property without approval and insists all transactions were approved with Archbishop signature. Father Bob compared Brisbane to Melbourne and reminded supporters to keep the peace should he fail in his bid to stay on. Referring to the rebel Catholic priest Peter Kennedy who split his congregation after intense pressure to step down at St Mary’s Catholic Church in South Brisbane.

There is no doubt plenty of support for Father Bob and what he stands for. No one ever forgot Bob, what he did and his energy and commitment to the community.