Michael Doherty was born to Monica Mulvihill and Kevin Doherty after their first-born son Joseph was born prematurely and only lived for a day.
The family lived in Fullarton close to cousins including the children of Dos and Gene Egar, Molly and Gene O’Leary and Hughie and Mamie Doherty.
Michael, his siblings Rosemary, Patricia (deceased), Paul and Lucia, and many of his cousins, were baptised in St Raphael’s Church, Parkside, where his funeral Mass was held.
His primary education was at the Convent of Mercy School at Parkside and then at Christian Brothers College (CBC), Adelaide.
The close families with strong Irish heritage enjoyed singing, dancing and partying and, of course, attending Mass, family first communions, marriages and funerals.
Michael would walk or ride to school with cousins Rob Egar and Justin O’Leary – laughing, chiacking and probably sharing cheeky insults with the public school kids on the other side of the road.
The close-knit Parkside cousins made their first communions and became altar boys. Imagine them up at the altar in their lacy, white surplices, trying to remember the Latin responses and competing to be the one who would ring the bells, swing the thurible and snuff out the candles. Michael even ironed the ribbons in his missal before Mass.
On finishing school at CBC, the cousins chose their pathways. Rob entered the seminary and Michael followed a year later. Cousin Ted Mulvihill was a few years ahead in the seminary and was an impressive role model.
In 1945, at the age of 19, Michael was selected to go to Rome to complete his studies at Propaganda College.
For two years his room faced out onto the Vatican on the same level as Pope Pius XII’s room. When the Pope came to the window to bless the people Michael could see him and at night time when he was studying for exams he could see the Pope’s light on in his window.
After nearly four years in Rome, he was ordained a priest on December 21 1957 along with 63 classmates from 22 different countries.
Monica and Kevin travelled to Rome by ship for their son’s ordination. Kath Egar, who was travelling in Europe at the time, also attended.
Michael stayed a further six months before returning to Australia. He recalled that as his plane was flying over Geraldton on the way home an announcement was made that Pope Pius XII had died.
His first Mass in Adelaide was in his home parish at St Raphael’s Church.
With many new migrants living in the western suburbs, Michael was appointed assistant priest to the large Woodville parish where he said Mass and preached in Italian.
He later served in Tranmere, Hectorville, Pinnaroo, Stirling, Strathalbyn, the Cathedral and Virginia/Two Wells parishes.
His many parishioners remember him as a conscientious, diligent priest and spiritual leader but also someone who enjoyed a joke, had a hearty laugh and readily invited himself to a Sunday roast.
On Mondays, Michael relaxed at the family home, enjoying his mother’s beautiful meals, sharing quality time with his sisters Rosemary and Pat and having his siesta, a practice he had developed in Rome and continued for the rest of his life.
He had a special relationship with Pat, who was his soulmate, organiser, list maker, and sometimes chastiser. Not only did they share a birthday, but also a love of music, theatre and travel.
On one memorable holiday, Michael and Pat visited Rome where Michael organised an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. He proudly presented Pat to his holiness.
Michael experienced some stressful and challenging times during his priesthood and endured episodes of poor mental health. At these times he sought the comfort and nurturing of his priestly community and family, particularly his mum when she was alive and his sisters Rosemary and Pat, as well as some excellent health professionals.
When he was parish priest at Virginia, not long before his retirement, he was assaulted, robbed and bound by intruders who stole a chalice and ciborium from the tabernacle that they had forced him to open. They stole his car, which they later destroyed.
When Michael retired at 75, he moved into Villa Murphy and took on the chaplaincy at Southern Cross Aged Care at North Plympton and celebrated Sunday Masses at
St Ann’s Chapel, Marion.
A couple of years ago Fr Rob Egar joined him at Villa Murphy. Once again the cousins were living close together. Rob provided Michael with love, support and care as best as his own health would allow.
Failing health led to his transfer to The Pines nursing home where he had served as chaplain.
Taken from the eulogy by Paul Doherty