Conrad William Reis was born in Albury on 26 February 1914, of German, Catalan (from Spain) and Irish ancestry, the second of three children of Charles Reis and Susan Parer. All his life Con was close to his sister Kath and his brother Kevin, and in turn to Kevins wife and family.
Cons childhood was comfortable and happy but his teenage years were marked by the sad death of his father when Con was only 15. His mother brought the children to Kew in Melbourne and Con went to school at the Jesuits Xavier College. From school Con went on to do eight years training at the diocesan seminary at Corpus Christi College, Werribee before being ordained a priest in 23 July 1939 on the eve of World War II.
In mid 1941, after only eighteen months parish work at Mentone, at the age of 27, Father Con was appointed chaplain to the Fourth Brigade of the Australian Army. His pastoral work was mostly with the 29/46 Battalion and the Fourth Field Ambulance, many of them 19 year-olds from Richmond, Fitzroy and Collingwood, with a contingent from Korumburra as well.
When they got back from New Guinea, every year for over 50 years, on the first Friday in December, hundreds of men and their families, Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, Jews, agnostics and atheists gathered under Father Con Reis leadership for a Requiem Mass to commemorate the fallen.
After the war Father Con was appointed to the Catholic Missions office (1946-48) residing at St Columbas, Elwood; then assistant priest at St Fidelis, Moreland (1948-1950); from 1950-53 he was diocesan director of Catholic Migration; and then came his appointment to St Albans in 1953.
Father Con was the founding parish priest of a predominantly migrant community at Sacred Heart, St Albans, a post he filled for twenty years with extraordinary skill and success.
Together the parishioners and Father Con constructed fine buildings and a remarkable spiritual family, where people of dozens of nationalities, some former enemies in World War II, worshipped side by side, and their children went to school together.
From 1973 Father Con was appointed parish priest at St Columbas Elwood where he worked happily and productively until his retirement in 1978. At a modest home in Frankston he enjoyed many years of gardening and golf, reflection and relaxation, and helped out in the neighbouring parishes, especially St Thomas Mores, Mt Eliza.
However, in recent years Father Con was legally blind, suffered from the effects of a stroke and dementia, and became bed ridden. At Frankston he was helped by many people and especially by his devoted carer Kay Daniels. Then in Justin Villa and the Good Shepherd Nursing Home
Con was cared for lovingly by many other wonderful people. He died
peacefully in his sleep around 5.30 am on Friday 29 September 2006.
May he rest in peace.