Bishop Michael Putney 1946-2014

Vigil Service, Sacred Heart Cathedral Townsville, 6 April, 2014

Funeral Service, Emmaus Hall, Ryan Catholic College, Townsville, 7 April 2014

Bishop Michael Putney Photo from the Catholic Diocese of Townsville

Bishop Michael Putney
Photo from the Catholic Diocese of Townsville

A Reflection by Apostolic Nuncio to Australia Archbishop Paul Gallagher

My appointment as Apostolic Nuncio to Australia coincided almost exactly with Bishop Putney falling ill. When I passed through Rome before taking up this post, I was struck by the spontaneous expressions of sadness and appreciation which senior people in the Vatican shared with me. The message from Cardinal Koch to Archbishop Hart, as President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, is an example of such sentiments, so let me now read it to you:

Dear Archbishop Hart

Among the many blessings of my first year here in Australia, having met and having come to know Bishop Michael Putney, albeit briefly, stands out and will endure among the lasting memories of this mission.

I have no doubt that Michael Putney was a dutiful man, priest and Bishop, but I think he did little out of simple duty and much out of a great love for God, for the Church and for clergy and faithful People of God he served in Brisbane and Townsville.

He told me he wanted this Cathedral illuminated at night so that all people of goodwill might be reminded of God in a world from which we too often exclude Our Father.

He wanted this Cathedral to be restored worthily, so that it might not be just a “liturgical space”, but a sacred place of prayer, particularly for the sorrowful, the worried and the suffering, and where they might experience the love, mercy and compassion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

His love of the Church was seen in his commitment to the ecumenical movement and to sincere, honest and challenging dialogue.

I think I glimpsed his love of God’s people when we met with staff and students from the Catholic Schools of the Diocese on March 20, the day before he went into hospital. His pride was evident. In previous years, he had visited every school and met every child and youngster. He took special delight in praying with them and joining them in meditation, which has become such a marvellous characteristic of school life in this Diocese.

In his loving ministry, Bishop Michael more than fulfilled his pastoral duties; he leaves us a great example of loving service. May he indeed rest in peace, receiving from the Good Shepherd the reward of a good and faithful servant.

+ Paul R. Gallagher
Apostolic Nuncio in Australia


Archbishop Paul Gallagher

Cathy Day, Diocesan Director, Townsville Catholic Education

Celcus Phillips, Bishop Michael Putney’s sister

Rev Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ormond Rush, Associate Professor and Reader, St Paul’s Theological College, ACU

Thelma Parker, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council

Messages of condolence

Pope Francis

Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia

Campbell Newman, QLD Premier


Audio: A Reflection by Archbishop Paul Gallagher during the vigil service for Bishop Michael Putney

Audio: Eulogy by Bishop Bill Ray, Anglican Bishop of North Queensland

For further information, please contact Aoife Connors on 0450 348 597 or