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Death of 'knockabout priest'

Fr John Brosnan, known as "the knockabout priest", died peacefully yesterday morning in Nazareth House, Melbourne, aged 83.

He was one of Melbourne's greatest and best-loved characters and will be honoured by a state funeral at St Patrick's Cathedral at 11:00 am next Thursday.

A friend and adviser to the lowly and dispossessed, Fr Brosnan was Pentridge Prison chaplain for 30 years and confidant and confessor to Ronald Ryan, the last man hanged in Australia in 1967.

"I think I move uniquely in this society, from top to bottom to sideways, as no other person does," he once said.

He was a fanatical supporter of the Geelong Football Club, and he seldom missed the greyhoud racing. His winnings went towards helping the social welfare service that he founded, giving ex-prisoners a bed and helping young people with jobs and transport. Today the Brosnan Centre in Dawson St, Brunswick, run by his successor, Fr Peter Norden SJ, continues to help the young homeless and the unemployed being released from prison.


Fr Brosnan, Friend of those in Prison Dies (Catholic Social Services)
State Funeral For Legendary Pentridge Priest (Jesuit Social Services)
Father Brosnan Says Farewell (Jesuit Social Services)
Vale Father Brosnan, an inmate's mate (The Age)
Jesuit Social Services tribute to Fr Broanan

27 Mar 2003