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Archbishop Doyle cites "The Byrds" in moving tribute to Jim Bacon

Archbishop Adrian Doyle was one of five speakers at the State Funeral for Jim Bacon. The others were: Mr Bacon's wife, Honey; the Hon. Doug Lowe, a former Premier; Mr Bacon's sister, Wendy; Mr Paul Lennon, the Premier of Tasmania. Musical performances were given by Cary Lewincamp, Robyn Archer accompanied by Michael Kieran-Harvey, and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Guy Noble. Michael Mansell and Lutana Spotswood gave a welcome to land.

Following is the full text of the address given by Archbishop Doyle…
Honey and Jim Bacon after the 2002 Election victory - ABC photo

Just four weeks ago today, I was driving through North Hobart about 5.30 in the afternoon. It was already dark, of course, but it was also quite cold, and it had been raining at times through the day as well. As I waited in the slowly moving traffic in Elizabeth Street, I realised that I was very close to the home of Jim and Honey, and the thought came to me that I should call at the house see them for a few minutes.

Honey met me at the door and ushered me into the room at the rear of the house where Jim was sitting. It was not a long visit, perhaps 20 minutes, but it was an opportunity to thank Jim again for his friendship to me, and for all that he had achieved during his time as Premier. When the time came for me to leave, Jim disconnected himself from the feeding drip and accompanied me to the front door. We said what really was our final goodbye, and I went back into the dark of the night.

As he did on many occasions, Jim repeated to me his profound sense of gratitude and amazement, in the light of the support, love, and the promise of prayers which had been expressed so strongly since we first became aware of his serious illness.

Grateful people are very beautiful and appealing people. They have a capacity to acknowledge their own need for assistance and support, and at the same time, they have an ability to identify the needs of others, and where support and assistance may be welcome.

Jim, to me, was one of these people.

My own association with Jim and Honey really began on 6 February 1998, when they attended my ordination as a bishop. From that day, a strong friendship developed. It is not as if we socialised on a regular basis. We met on occasions as people in public life do. But I believe there was a very profound respect, one for the other, that characterised our relationship from that time onwards. We both knew that if necessary, we could quickly be in touch to seek advice or to offer support. And, from time to time, we did just that.

There was a recognition that we had some differences in religious belief and in social policy, but they were never reasons for allowing the respect and friendship we had to be jeopardised. I think that was part of Jim's inclusive approach to everything he did.

One of his many gifts, as I noted them, was that he always seemed to have time for people. He did not give the impression to me of ever being in a hurry. One afternoon, when he came to Mt. St. Canice to launch an employment initiative I was sponsoring, he stayed for quite some time without ever giving any sense of having another engagement. Afterwards, he even took time to pose for a photo with a student from Guilford Young College who had been assigned to be his minder. Later, I learned with some surprise that he had somehow travelled to Sheffield that same afternoon to address an issue which had arisen in the community.

As has been said by many, Jim expressed great confidence in this state and its people. That confidence became infectious and I think the fact that he was not born here made this particularly appealing. He clearly had decided to make Tasmania his home, to be part of the future of this state, and to do whatever he could to ensure that it did have a future.

In the religious tradition that I follow, there is a phrase which is often quoted in these times. It comes from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans. "The life and death of each of us," he says, "has its influence on others". Jim's life and death have had a profound influence on us all. Today is our opportunity to recognise and acknowledge that influence, and to express our gratitude for it.

I have the honour today to represent the religious communities in Tasmania. On their behalf, I want to say to you Honey, in particular, that our prayers and support are with you at this time. Our sense of loss, no matter how deeply felt, cannot be compared to yours, but you can draw strength from the love that you and Jim shared so proudly and publicly. You can also draw strength, as Jim would, from the knowledge that his influence on all of us will endure.

Honey, as your friend and as Jim's, and also as someone representing thousands of other Tasmanians, I wish to express to you, to Jim's sons, his Mother and sisters, our sympathy, but also our admiration and our gratitude for his life and his presence, and in particular his example and his courage during these past four months.

I know The Byrds were a particular musical favourite of Jim's. In the words of their song Turn, Turn, Turn, originally from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, there is "a time for every purpose". Now is "a time for peace."

May Jim Bacon rest in peace.

The Most Reverend Adrian Doyle
Archbishop of Hobart

Archdiocese of Hobart website

25 Jun 2004