The Memorial Mass and Re-Interment of Dr. Austin Woodbury, S.M. (1899-1979)

Sister Maur Woodbury, SM

Dr. Austin Woodbury, SM, 1899-1979

Doctor Austin Maloney Woodbury died on the 3rd of February, 1979, and on 7th February, following a Requiem Mass in St. Patrick's, Church Hill, he was buried in the private cemetery of the Marist Fathers in the grounds of St. Peter Chanel Seminary, Toongabbie, Sydney. Forty-two years earlier he had established this first Marist Seminary in Australia.

In January this year [1997], the Marist Fathers decided that they could not continue their apostolate at Toongabbie and that in the near future the property would be leased to other users. Therefore they decided to move the remains of the fourteen Marists buried there to the Northern Suburbs Lawn Cemetery.

However, the Woodbury family decided to take this opportunity to fulfil a wish expressed by Doctor Woodbury to family members some time before he died. He wished to be buried beside his mother and father in the cemetery at Holy Trinity Church near Spencer on the Hawkesbury River, North of Sydney. This church is about a mile from the home, “West View,” where he was born in 1899, and where he lived until he entered the Marist Fathers' Junior Seminary at Mittagong.

We, the family, made this request to the Marist Fathers and they graciously acceded to it. And so it was, arrangements having been duly made, that many family members, friends and ex-students of the Aquinas Academy founded by Dr. Woodbury made their way to the Church of the Holy Trinity on the 31st of May, 1997, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The coffin with Dr. Woodbury's remains was brought from Sydney by W.N. Bull Funeral Directors and at 11 am we gathered in the little church for some prayers and the Blessing of the Coffin. As we processed to the grave just behind the Church, the coffin was carried by four nephews of Dr. Woodbury and we sang The Lourdes Hymn because 'the Doc' had great devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. The Rite of Reinterment concluded with a decade of the Rosary and the singing of the Salve Regina. The prayers of the Mass were taken from the Anniversary Mass for the Dead and the Mass for the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The main celebrant was Father Tom Maloney, S.M., a cousin of Dr. Woodbury. Concelebrants were Father Wally Fingleton, S.M., Father Bernard Clinton, C.S.S.R., and Father William Milsted. In his homily, Father Tom spoke of his earliest memories of Dr. Woodbury when he visited the Maloney home. Even as a young boy he was aware of a certain 'presence' that 'the Doc' had and which left a lasting impression on him. Later on, when he was in the seminary as a student under Dr. Woodbury, he remembers the great clarity and nobility of the Doc's teaching, of the influence it has had on him and his fellow seminarians and of how it has stood by them in these confusing times in the Church. The beautiful singing was in both Latin and English and great credit goes to the choir which was composed of students of the Centre for Thomistic Studies. The young men serving the Mass, also students of the Centre for Thomistic Studies and members of the Ecclesia Dei Society, did so with great reverence and dignity despite the lack of space.

Holy Trinity Church, Spencer, NSW The Mass was very beautiful and was appreciated by all, despite the crowding, for approximately 150 people overflowed the little Church. Refreshments were served after the Mass and enjoyed by all in a happy, sociable atmosphere.

The Woodbury family are most grateful to all those, the priests, the altar servers, the choir and the helpers who made this day such a memorable occasion. It is fitting that Dr. Austin Woodbury be buried near his birthplace alongside his family, resting in eternal peace on a hillside overlooking his beloved Hawkesbury River.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine,
Et lux perpetua luceat ei.

Sister Maur Woodbury, SM, runs the Holy Family Education Centre in Sydney, Australia,
specialising in religious education and home schooling.

This article posted November 1997. It was published in Universitas, Vol 1 (1997), No. 2.
Permission is granted to copy or quote from this article, provided that full credit is given to the author and to the
Centre for Thomistic Studies, Sydney, Australia.
We would be grateful to receive a copy of any republication.