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Fr Brosnan's gift from the grave

When he died last year, one of Melbourne's most loved Catholic priests left almost half his small fortune to a woman he treated like a daughter.

The Herald-Sun today reports that Fr John Brosnan bequeathed $150,000 to Sharon Harvey when he died in March last year at the age of 83.

It says the "frugal former prison chaplain" owned just one suit and a group of concerned bookies once took up a collection to buy him a pair of shoes.

Mrs Harvey, 42, told the paper that she does not know why Fr Brosnan favoured her, but for as long as Mrs Harvey can remember, he has been part of her life.

He was Pentridge Prison chaplain for 30 years and gave the last rites to Ronald Ryan, the last man hanged in Australia. Fr Brosnan was paid for his work as a prison chaplin and received a superannuation payout as a public servant.

His sister Mary Wilshire, 87, described Sharon as a friend of Fr Brosnan, who took pity on her as a little girl when her father abandoned the family.

She did not think it was unusual that Mrs Harvey received the bulk of his estate.

Mrs Wilshire said her brother was a remarkable man who took little Sharon and her mother Helga under his wing.

Gift from the grave (Herald-Sun 28/7/04)

Knockabout Priest (Madonna)
Family and friends farewell Fr John Brosnan (CathNews 4/4/03)

28 Jul 2004