St Joseph’s parish in Takapuna, Auckland aptly launched the late Fr Martin Bugler’s book, A Song to be Sung, on Valentine’s day.
Fr Bugler’s book is essentially about everything he loved: growing up as a boy in Ireland, music, pursuing his vocation as a priest, and his parish. The title summed up his philosophy: “Life is a song to be sung, a dance to be danced.”
At the book launch, St Joseph’s parish priest Msgr David Tonks cheerfully admitted that, though he [Msgr Tonks] was the parish priest, he “had to defer to” Fr Bugler, who was described by Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn as “the Bishop of Milford”.
“During his [Fr Bugler’s] nine years in Milford, he built up the community there extraordinarily. And it’s just a joy to be able to honour him a little bit today,” Msgr Tonks said.
The book’s editor, Gabrielle Rothwell, said Fr Bugler started writing the book in 2017.
“I have watched this book take shape from its earliest days, when he would send me some chapters. Right from the start, I was absorbed,” Mrs Rothwell said.
“The characters, rich and delightful, came alive before my eyes. I could picture his friends, his family, growing up as a child always running, to school, to play, helping his father on the farm. This is a difficult thing to do, not many people have this gift, but Martin had it in spades.”
This observation was echoed by Ann Bugler, Fr Bugler’s niece, who flew to Auckland from Ireland for the occasion.
Ms Bugler said her uncle had always been a storyteller, and she revealed that they would all be updated about the goings on in the Takapuna parish when the priest visited them in Ireland.
She said that Fr Bugler, one of the longest-serving priests in Auckland diocese, was “an ordinary man, who enjoyed life’s simpler pleasures. He rejoiced in the wonder of the mystery of every day and every experience, meeting everyone with kindness and gratitude”.
She said this shone throughout the book, which was told in an “authentic, natural way”.
Mrs Rothwell, author of five books herself, said the book was “so worthy because there’s very few books written about growing up in Ireland, particularly by a priest”.
She said she was honoured to be part of this book, as well as having his friendship in the last three years.
“There would be many people here today, including myself, who have knocked on his door, asked for his help. No one was ever turned away,” she said at the gathering at the Takapuna parish hall.
Ms Bugler thanked everyone who looked after Fr Bugler “to the very, very end of his life”.
“He lived out his true calling in life with enthusiasm and devotion,” she said, adding, “It’s been a life of pure fulfilment.”
Fr Bugler passed away on December 24, 2020.
For enquiries about the book, people can contact Mrs Rothwell at firstname.lastname@example.org