Father Bob Maguire has died aged 88.
He dedicated his life to charitable works and earned a reputation as a candid commentator unafraid to speak his mind.
He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for services to youth homelessness.
The charity campaigner and religious figure died at Cabrini Hospital in Melbourne on Wednesday morning, aged 88.
His family led tributes, saying he would be sorely missed and describing the “unloved and unlovely” as his real passion.
“Fr Bob was not just a much-loved family member but was loved by all Australians for what he stood for,” the Maguire family said in a statement.
“He has fought bravely for the underprivileged and homeless all his life. He represented the highest of principles, and he fought to actively live those principles.”
The Catholic priest became known for his work with disadvantaged people in his South Melbourne parish before regularly appearing in national media.
He first worked with broadcaster John Safran in 2004 on SBS’s John Safran vs God, with the duo going on to host radio programs on ABC’s Triple J for a decade.
The pair were often referred to as an odd couple and covered many topics including religion, culture and politics with a side of irony and humour.
“I never thought Bob would ever stop making me laugh, but with the sad news of today, he finally has,” Safran posted to social media.
Fr Bob balanced his media commitments and parish duties until he was forced to retire from the Catholic Church.
He was first asked to resign aged 75 under canon law but managed to stay on for another two years even after a public spat with then-Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart over finances.
In 2011, he accused Cardinal George Pell of punishing him for being “open to all” and described his exit as a dishonourable discharge.
He delivered his last service to more than 1000 people packed into the church in 2012.
His final years as a parish priest were depicted in the documentary film In Bob We Trust, which includes snippets of his run-ins with church figures.
At 25, he was ordained in Melbourne and was a chaplain for conscripted Australian soldiers heading to Vietnam.
Fr Bob was appointed to the parish of Saints Peter and Paul’s in South Melbourne in 1973, where he stayed for the next 39 years.
He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for services to youth homelessness and collected other accolades including Victorian of the Year in 2011 and Victorian Senior of the Year in 2022.
Fr Bob co-founded the national homeless youth organisation Open Family Australia in 1978 and later his own foundation.