Cyril Hally

New Zealand born Columban Fr Cyril Hally, a key supporter of the foundations of the YCW movement in Australia, has died in Sydney aged 90.

As a young priest, he taught in the seminary in Melbourne, Australia, where he played an instrumental role in forming the first generation of chaplains of the Australian YCW.

He remained faithful to the Cardijn method all his life, particularly in his research and in his teaching and indeed his whole approach as a missiologist.

In the years after Vatican II, he lived and worked at the Pro Mundi Vita Institute in Brussels where he also collaborated with many leaders of the International YCW of that period.

On his return to Australia he taught missiology for many years at the Columban Mission Institute in Turramurra, New South Wales.

After his eventual “retirement”, he moved to the Columban Centre at Essendon in Melbourne.

In 2007-08, he was a founder member of CCI Australia.

A great figure of the Australian Church and of the Cardijn tradition.

More information:

Plus a story on CathNews: Tributes for Fr Cyril Hally, Columban missionary and priest

As well as a CathBlog post from me: Missionary who knew how to cross culture boundaries

Stefan Gigacz

Photo above: Tony Robertson

Cyril Hally sees the Spirit moving

What is needed is a process of healing of memories which provides strength to the victims to tell the truth.

This in turn calls for the conversion of the perpetrators of injustice and full restoration of the perpetrators’ humanity.

This has come out very clearly in the truth and reconciliation things in South Africa, where the police stood up, and had to stand up and say what they did, because they were less than human, and they were told that during the torture processes.

Could it be that the weakening of the powerful institutional aspect of the Australian church’s recent past, the decline in mass attendance, the decline in the numbers of clergy and religious, scandals of paedophilia and orphanages etc. are rendering the church more vulnerable and therefore open to reconciliation, healing of memories, the need for forgiveness.

Are we prophets of gloom and doom? Or do we see the spirit moving to make us vulnerable? (Religion Report, 21/7/99)

A Cyril Hally investment

I ran into Cyril Hally in mid-2004 and mentioned that I was going to Malaysia. Whereupon he informed me of an international missiology conference he planned to attend there and would I like to join him? Glancing at the $600 price tag, I quickly concluded that missiology was not my area of expertise.

“I’ll pay for you,” he said in a matter of fact tone that made my participation seem like a foregone conclusion.

At the conference, I roomed with Batara Sihombing a Lutheran seminary professor from Sumatra with whom I became friends and we later ended up working on a series of projects.

In 2008, Batara invited me to teach English to his seminarians during their long holidays. Only having a few days to spare and not being an English teacher, I balked but Batara wore me down.

A few weeks later I was in Medan standing before his seminarians, i.e. my English students. Seminarians they indeed were but not as we Catholics know them. 100 young men and women from the backblocks of Sumatra, all future pastors, and I was going to teach them English – for two days. With no books, no idea.

Instinct and training kicked in. First session. See. Break up into groups of ten and discuss – in English – the issues facing young people in your villages. Stunned silence, scraping of chairs gave way to a crescendo of animated voices. By the end of the morning the whiteboard was covered with an extensive list of issues – unemployment, drift to the city, lack of education, drugs, sex, you name it…

Afternoon session. Judge. What does your faith tell you about these issues? An afternoon of outstanding biblical insight that would done any teacher of Christian social justice proud.

Next day.Act. What could you do in your villages about one of these issues during your summer break? A whiteboard crammed with simple action ideas capable of transforming the lives of young people across the nation. Plus a room full of powerfully motivated pastors-in-waiting.

It was the best YCW weekend, I mean English course, I ever ran.

Cyril would have loved it. Young men and women pastors trained to read the signs of the times and to see, judge and act all over outback Indonesia. A great return on his initial investment!

Stefan Gigacz

A modern day prophet

Cyril Hally without doubt was a modern day prophet: a great advocate for the underdog, an upholder of the human dignity of every person, and someone who continually called us back to the person of Jesus. May Cyril’s vision, courage and hope be an inspiration to us all in these challenging times. May he rest in peace.

– Canberra Auxiliary Bishop Pat Power