By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook, 17 February 2017
The Funeral Mass for Fr Tim Crowley, a much-loved priest of the Diocese of Parramatta, was celebrated at St Bernadette’s Parish, Lalor Park, on Friday 17 February 2017. Fr Tim died in retirement in Victoria on Tuesday 7 February 2017, aged 88. A private cremation followed the Mass.
The Mass was live streamed on the Diocese of Parramatta’s Facebook page and can be viewed here.
St Bernadette’s Church at Lalor Park was full, with many relatives, priests, parishioners and supporters of Fr Tim.
Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, was the principal celebrant for the Requiem Mass for the Repose of the Soul of Fr Timothy Crowley, which was concelebrated by the Diocese of Parramatta’s Bishops Emeritus, Most Rev Bede Heather and Most Rev Bishop Kevin Manning, priests of the Diocese and visiting priests.
Mark Carter gave the first reading. Robert Taylor gave the second reading and Kirsty Rowe prayed the prayer of intercession.
Brook Crowley, Mitchell Crowley and Aaron Stone brought up the gifts in the Offertory Procession.
Patricia Sullivan and Dennis Crowley gave words of remembrance.
A large parish choir sang Come As You Are with passion and one of Fr Tim’s favourites, Like a Shepherd.
Fr Paul Marshall gave a beautiful homily.
“Henry Lawson prophetically names our human condition …’I’m at home and at ease on a track that I know not … and restless and lost on a road that I know.’ Tim knew the many roads of life. He shepherded many along some dark and dusty roads but he knew which way he was going by the Southern Cross. For all his shortcomings – and there weren’t too many – he knew to keep the cross always before him,” Fr Paul said.
Among the many priests, Rev Fr Paul Foley attended, the only one of Fr Tim’s seminary year classmates at the funeral.
Tim Crowley was present, the nephew and namesake of Fr Tim, was present along with many of Fr Tim’s great-nephews and nieces.
“This Church is like a second home to us,” Tim said. “All our christenings, weddings, funerals – everything.”
Students at St Bernadette’s Primary School provided a large guard of honour for Fr Tim’s hearse as it left the church.
Born in 1929, Tim was the second of six children born to Timothy and Mary Crowley. The family lived in North Leichhardt where Tim was educated at St Columba’s Convent and Christian Brothers’ High School.
The young Tim undertook formation for the priesthood at St Columba’s Seminary, Springwood, and St Patrick’s Seminary Manly.
Ordained a priest by Cardinal Gilroy on 18 July 1959, he was a priest for more than 57 years, and served in parishes across the Sydney region: Clovelly (1959-63), Camperdown (1963-66), Lalor Park (1966-70), Darlinghurst (1970-72), Meadowbank (1972-74), Pymble (1975-76), Moorebank (1976), Kingsgrove (1976), South Mount Druitt (1976-79) and Lalor Park from 1979 until his retirement in 2002.
In an interview with Catholic Outlook in 2014, Fr Tim looked back on his early life and priestly ministry.
Born and raised during the Great Depression, his earliest memories were grounded in the struggles of a war-ravaged community, banding together to simply survive.
As the years passed, the wealthier families worked selflessly to protect the less fortunate like himself and, in time, slowly pulled the community back from the brink of collapse.
It was this generosity that had the greatest effect on the developing youth and would become a cornerstone of Fr Tim’s ministry as he set about his spiritual path.
“I had a pretty good life even though we were poor,” he said. “There was just this amazing sense of belonging because of these great people.
“If you went to the dairy for a pint of milk, they’d give you a pint and a half. If you went to the fruit shop to get some oranges they’d say take a couple of apples and bananas as well.
“Everyone was willing to just give that little bit extra for each other, and I learned a lot of good things there.”
At first, he questioned his calling, choosing to leave the seminary in his early teens to pursue what every other man of that age is interested in. But the sudden death of his brother-in-law left Tim’s niece desperately in need of a father figure.
And so, with a wistful glimmer in his eye, which remains to this day, Tim sacrificed his own promising relationship to rejoin the priesthood and become the man this young girl needed to guide her through life.
“Going back to be a priest wasn’t easy. I had a girlfriend at the time – a lovely, lovely girl – but I felt it was where I needed to be. So there I stayed, and had a wonderful life in the priesthood.”