When Mgr Arthur (Art) Hackett died at St Joseph’s House, Port Pirie, at the age of 88 in his 66th year of priestly ministry, Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ described him as ‘one of the icons of the diocese’.
Born in Port Pirie, Art was ordained on December 7 1954 in Rome and after returning to Port Pirie Diocese in 1955 he ministered in 10 parishes, including as parish priest of Whyalla West for 24 years, Kadina for 10 and his final years in Gladstone.
Tributes came from all over the vast diocese – from Coober Pedy to Port Lincoln – thanking him for being a loyal priest to his God and his people.
The Good Samaritan Sisters, with whom he ministered closely at Whyalla, were full of affection and praise. Sr Bernadette Corboy SGS said he was “ahead of his time in his openness and large-heartedness in his ministry as a priest and a parish leader…in the way he could work closely with women and men who made up his community of faithful followers, using the gifts they were willing to offer”.
“He was a good listener, able to be flexible, adaptable, a compassionate and generous pastor. His humour and capacity for enjoyment in the company of others was infectious,” she said.
Art’s life was dominated by three themes: his strong faith, his life’s mission and the love of his family.
His faith in God was evident in the way he lived his daily life, though it was strong he did not take it for granted but bolstered it with prayer. He always made time to slip away to a quiet place to say his daily office. His breviary was his companion.
He spent a great deal of time preparing his homilies, which were held in high regard.
Art was a dutiful son to his mum and dad, and was very close to his two younger brothers Frank and Des and their wives and children. He encouraged them to visit the grave of their eldest brother Michael who was killed in France, doing his duty as an air gunman in Lancaster in WWII.
His two sisters, Kathleen and Mollie, worked in distant mission settlements in Australia and on islands North of Australia, as Sisters of Our Lady Sacred Heart. When he could, Art journeyed to these places to visit and bring the closeness of family to them.
He was a great mate with his brother Tom, who was only two years older and so spent their youth doing all the things kids do and they went on many holidays together before Tom was killed in a motor accident in 1968.
Art was great at meeting and greeting the families in his various parishes. He could remember their names from way back and those of their children and who they had become. Children at the schools he visited loved him and tributes from the children of St Joseph’s Parish School in Gladstone were sent to his family after his death.
Art was very social and loved a good gathering, he was good company with a keen sense of humour.Jump to next article