by PETER OWENS and PAT VELTKAMP-SMITH
There was shock among Catholics in Dunedin diocese and the wider community at the death of Monsignor Paul Mahoney on December 20, when he died in his sleep.
Bishop Colin Campbell appointed Msgr Mahoney vicar-general of the diocese in July 2012 to succeed Msgr Vincent Walker. This made him Bishop Campbell’s deputy and his official voice when the bishop was away.
Bishop Campbell and Emeritus Bishop Len Boyle were deeply saddened by the unexpected death.
As parish priest of St Mary’s Basilica in Invercargill, then Fr Len Boyle helped solicitor Paul Mahoney, then chairman of the parish council, discern his vocation to the priesthood.
Bishop Campbell was five when he met fellow new entrant Paul Mahoney at school. They were in the same class, taught by Dominican Sisters and Marist Brothers through their school years, and meeting regularly at St Mary’s, with both families belonging to the parish.
Both bright, they were competitive at school as on the sports field.
Then came a break as they left school, Colin to Holy Cross College and Paul to law school.
At the age of 40, Mr Mahoney was ordained to the priesthood, and the pair were “brothers” again.
At the time of his death aged 74, Msgr Mahoney was parish priest of Upper Clutha, which includes Holy Family Church at Wanaka and the Church of the Irish Martyrs in Cromwell. This was no sinecure, but one of the most rapidly growing Catholic parishes in the south.
His funeral Mass was concelebrated at the historic St Mary’s Church in Tyne St, Invercargill, by Bishops Campbell and Len Boyle and more than 30 priests from all over the south.
Before the interment, requiem Masses were celebrated at Holy Family Church and the Church of the Irish Martyrs.
Paul Mahoney attended the University of Otago, where he graduated in law. In this he was following in the footsteps of his father, Tim Mahoney, a successful solicitor in Invercargill.
He was ordained in 1981, by the late Bishop John Kavanagh.
Before his move to Upper Clutha, Msgr Mahoney was parish priest of St Mary’s Basilica in Invercargill. This historic church needed serious repairs and Msgr Mahoney led the way for the exterior and the interior of the basilica to be refurbished. This was the Basilica 2000 Project that led to the renewal of a prominent landmark in Invercargill and the object of pride and affection by not only Catholics in the local community.
When Bishop Campbell needed a new vicar-general, Msgr Mahoney was the obvious choice, his legal background, calm considered views and a lifetime as a skilled administrator in everything from the Invercargill Marist Rugby Club to the Southland Cricket Association, preparing him for the job.
He leaves three brothers: Tim in Auckland, John in Whangarei and David in Palmerston North.