Sydney’s Fairfield City Council has unveiled a park bench and outdoor basketball court named in memory of the city’s much-loved Father Patrick McAuliffe (pictured) – more commonly known as ‘Father Mac’ – of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Cabramatta parish, who passed away in April last year.
Fairfield City Mayor, Frank Carbone presented the tribute to members of the parish, and the Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School Cabramatta principal earlier today, saying Father Mac was a much-loved figure in the community.
“It’s fair to say that if you met him, you would never forget him. He was direct and honest, with a heart as big as his personality. His favourite saying was No worries in Cabramatta,” Mayor Carbone said.
Council spoke with the church and the school to determine the best way to honour Fr Mac’s contribution to Cabramatta, with the park bench agreed as a fitting tribute, as Fr Mac used to walk through the park every day to and from the PCYC. The naming of the basketball court was an ideal way to recognise his commitment to sport and young people in the area, the Mayor said.
“Father Mac was not just a figure in the church community. He was basketball coach at Cabramatta PCYC – for girls and boys teams, and he was president of the Cabramatta PCYC.”
“He reintroduced rugby league to Sacred Heart Cabramatta re-forming the Cabra Cubs – and he attended all the Sacred Heart rugby league and netball games on weekends,” he said.
Fr Mac served as parish priest at Sacred Heart Cabramatta for over 40 years and even into his retirement he was there for his community, providing weekly support and guidance for over 2,500 students of Mary Mackillop College Wakeley and Patrician Brothers Fairfield. He attended all school camps and religious retreats to lead the students in prayer.
His work in the broader community, especially with Cabramatta PCYC, resulted in him being awarded Rotary’s highest award, the Paul Harris Fellowship. He was also awarded the Centenary Medal for Service to the PCYC and Youth. He was Chaplain of St Vincent de Paul. He also led prayers at Cabravale Memorial Park on Anzac Day every year on behalf of the Cabra-Vale Diggers Club and its members.
Achievements aside, Fr Mac was also known for his warm welcome to every new nationality as they came into the Church community and was part of all their church groups. Fr Mac’s Basketball Court and park bench is located at Cabravale Memorial Park overlooking the Sacred Heart Cabramatta Church where Fr Mac served for more than 40 years.
“The naming tribute will serve as a permanent reminder of his contributions to Cabramatta and the wider Fairfield community,” Mayor Carbone said.