by NZ CATHOLIC staff
AUCKLAND — Former Howick and Mt Albert parish priest Fr Peter John Prendergast died peacefully at Auckland Hospital on August 7. He was 77.
Fr Prendergast, described by friends and parishioners as a “good man with a tender heart”, had been struggling with illness in the past decade of his life, said Auckland Bishop Patrick
“In recent years, for maybe a decade or longer, he struggled with terrible ill health and frequent visits to hospital. But very consciously, what he was enduring, he was sharing
in the mystery of the cross. He was very aware of that. He knew The Lord was present,” Bishop
Msgr David Tonks, who shared a house with Fr Prendergast in the past few years, said Fr Prendergast was a very compassionate man.
Fr Prendergast was born at Bayswater on the North Shore, but grew up in Mt Eden as a parishioner of St Benedict’s. He attended St Peter’s College and, on leaving school, worked for some years for Matson Shipping Lines, partly to support his widowed mother.
In 1968 he began training for the priesthood. He was a bright student, and is remembered for his star roles in a number of seminary plays that received critical acclaim in Dunedin.
He was ordained in 1974 with Patrick Brady at St Benedict’s.
Msgr Tonks said Fr Prendergast’s priestly ministry may very well be based on the first line of the second reading from 2 Timothy 2:8-13.
“‘Remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead, a descendant of David; this is my Gospel.’
“That’s what Peter took to heart, proclaimed in his priesthood, lived for and died for. Remember
Jesus Christ,” he said. “He identified with the crucified Jesus, for indeed, the last years of Fr Prendergast’s life were diminished by such poor health. When he sat in his chair sometimes, writhing in pain or lying in his hospital bed, he remembered Jesus Christ, the crucified one,” said Msgr Tonks.
Fr Prendergast entered the seminary at the age of 31. He was ordained on May 19, 1974. He served in Henderson, Epsom, Balmoral, Papatoetoe, Loreto Hall Teacher’s College, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Howick, Mt Albert, Parnell and the Little Sisters’ of the Poor St Joseph’s Home.
Vigil prayers were said at St Joseph’s Home, and his requiem Mass was celebrated on Monday August 11 at Mt Albert. He is buried at Panmure.