While his chaplaincy began as part of his role as parish priest of Lower North Adelaide, he was no stranger to the place when he walked through its doors as an adult.
“I spent a lot of my childhood there because I was born with club feet,” Fr O’Loughlin told The Southern Cross.
“The first 18 months of my life I had plaster from my toes to my waist.”
He would travel by train from his home in Pinnaroo to have the plaster changed and then callipers fitted. As a young boy he would often make the trip alone because his mother was a widow raising six children on her own. She would ask people on the train to keep an eye on him and he was met at the train station by a relative, Molly Tregenza.
She would put him on the train from Brompton to Adelaide for his visits to the hospital and then he would make the seven-hour train trip home.
Renowned for his colourful ties, Fr O’Loughlin said he was shopping in John Martin’s one day around the time he became the hospital chaplain and decided to buy a Mickey Mouse tie to cheer up the children. He wore the same tie at his farewell, which coincided with the retirement of the head of Chaplaincy Services at the Women’s and Children’s, Carl Aiken, a Baptist minister. Both men received great praise from the hospital staff for their work with sick children and families.
Mr Aiken described Fr O’Loughlin as a “neon of grace” as he “quietly sits there shining light for people to see what life in this world is all about”.
He said he would remember his delightful blessings at Christmas or memorial services and his gentleness and kindness.
Fr O’Loughlin said he felt “privileged” to sit with families who were so vulnerable when they had a sick child.
Chancellor Heather Carey, who oversees the Archdiocese’s chaplaincy services, said hospital and prison chaplains gathered with Archbishop Wilson for their own farewell to Fr O’Loughlin.
She said his love and care for the children and their families over many years was very evident as he spoke about his work.
“Equally, the love of families for Fr O’Loughlin was illustrated in the beautiful card and the book of photos and messages from families that he shared from the hospital’s farewell,” she said.
“He will be missed at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, but as he now moves into retirement, he travels with the blessings of countless families who have valued his work and who now join us in wishing Fr O’Loughlin every joy in his retirement.”
The Archbishop presented Fr O’Loughlin with an Indigenous painting, based on bush medicine, and given with good wishes for future health.
Fr Peter Rozitis has been appointed the new chaplain at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.Jump to next article