The Old Paradian Fr. Paul Rush, a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor for 73 years and a priest for 67 years, has died at the age of 91.

Fr. Paul, who took the religious name Theophane, died in Sydney last Sunday morning (May 31).

A long-time resident of the St Paschal Franciscan Estate in Box Hill, Fr. Paul had recently visited his sister, a Franciscan nun, in Brisbane, then later called in on another sister in Sydney where he suddenly collapsed.

Immediately hospitalised, Fr. Paul was later admitted to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Hospice, in Kensington, where he died.

Fr. Paul, born on May 21, 1929, was one of ten siblings (three boys, seven girls), and the youngest of the Rush boys of Ivanhoe. An older brother Bernie Rush married Peg Kyne - an aunt of Margot Kyne who married the Old Paradian Dan Whelan (1957).

Having first been schooled in the local Ivanhoe parish and (later) St Colman’s under Br. Bowler’s watch, Fr. Paul completed his Leaving year at Parade in 1944, then relocated to New South Wales to further his studies at St. Bonaventure’s College in Waverley.

On Sunday, July 26, 1953, Fr. Paul was ordained at St Patrick’s Cathedral, East Melbourne, in a ceremony conducted by Bishop O’Collins of Ballarat.

An excellent report of the ordination, which accompanied a portrait photograph of Fr. Paul appeared in The Paradian later that year. The Paradian’s unnamed correspondent of the day noted that on the Thursday after his ordination, Fr. Paul visited Parade’s East Melbourne and Flowerdale campuses.

At East Melbourne, the College Principal Br. Carey gave a short resume of Fr. Paul’s achievements while a student at the ‘Old Bluestone Pile’ and tributes were paid by the Old Paradians’ Association President Mr. R. Williams and Fr. Richard Rafter (on behalf of the Old Paradian priests).

The then College Captain the late Barry Phelan presented Fr. Paul with a confessional stole.

In reply, Fr. Paul urged all students at Parade to uphold the faith, maintain their respect for and obedience to their parents, and ensure that their conduct was exemplary away from the College.

Fr. Paul himself maintained his College connections and he was a welcome attendee at the Old Paradians’ Association’s Centenary Dinner in 2014 where he was pictured here on the right with fellow former students Brian O’Hehir (1944) at the far left and Frank O’Connor (1945).

Dan Whelan said this week that he got to know Fr. Paul well in recent years.

“Fr. Paul was a Canon Lawyer and spent many years at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC as a Professor of Canon Law. He always felt that the law should serve the people, no overpower them,” Dan said.

“One particular apostolate he took pride in was attending to the people of King Island and Flinders Island at Christmas and at Easter for many years - right up to Christmas last year. True, there was a spot there, but the point was he accepted the call to go . . . and he obviously enjoyed it and found it fulfilling.

“When he returned to Australia some years ago he often came to the Kyne family get-togethers - and that was when I met him first. Thanks be to God, our paths crossed regularly and I was very fond of him.

“He was a good bloke.”

Fr. Paul’s parents John and Helen (nee Gleeson) Rush, together with six of his siblings - Marie, Kathleen, Patricia, Joan, John and Bernard - all predeceased him. Three sisters Josephine, Mercia and Mary are still living.

A death notice placed in The Age on June 3 commended Fr. Paul as a man “committed to family, prayer, service and pastoral care”.

Mass of Christian Burial for Fr. Paul (Friar Theophane) Rush OFM. will be offered in Mary Immaculate Church, 45a Victoria Street, Waverley, New South Wales this Friday (June 5), 2020, commencing 2.30pm. Given current health restrictions, attendance at the funeral is limited, but the funeral will be livestreamed (contact 02 9369 9300 for details).

After the funeral, the body of Fr. Paul will be transferred to Melbourne where he will be buried in the Friars’ Cemetery at the St Paschal Estate, Box Hill. The burial will occur at 96 Albion Road Box Hill on Tuesday June 9, 2020, commencing 10.00am.