Archbishop’s tribute to Kevin Croker
A vote of thanks given to Kevin Croker on the day of his retirement at Haydon Hall, St Christopher’s Pastoral Centre on Friday December 14, by Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn
Experienced teachers say that all good lessons involve three points. I would like to make three points in honour of our esteemed and dear brother Kevin at the time of his retirement after working for many years with us here in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.
My first point is simply this. I have been your Archbishop now for a little over five years. When I first came to the Archdiocese I spent the first few weeks orientating myself with the workings of this wonderful Archdiocese. When I did, on many occasions ask the question, “Who does this?” I often got the same response, “Oh Keven Croker does that.” Then, something else would come up and I would say, “Who looks after that?” and the answer would be the same – “Oh Kevin Croker looks after that.” This went on and on and on. At this point in time I hadn’t met Kevin Croker but I was very keen to do so. He seemed as if he was a human Octopus, managing so many different responsibilities in this Archdiocese.
Indeed, Kevin Croker began working for the Archdiocese in 1991 in the Administration Chancery of the Archdiocese at the Archbishop’s House. By the mid 1990’s he assumed day to day management of the Archdiocesan Aged Care complex. This eventually grew and by 2005 he administered the Clergy Retirement Foundation which emerged from the former Sick and Retired Priests Fund.
This was not the only thing he was doing.
In the earlier days he was the Minute Taker and the Agenda Maker. In particular, with regard to the clergy, he organised their sabbaticals and long service leave. When they went on their holidays, he was the one to organise Priest Supplies for their Parishes. He oversaw the stipends given to our Clergy and when a Priest moved from one Parish to another, he helped organise the practicalities of moving the Priest to his new Parish. With Seminarians and Priests from overseas, he looked after their visas and took care of their practical needs when they arrived.
In more recent years, as we all know, he has been fully occupied with looking after our retired Clergy. He has been the Secretary of their association and has organised their annual appeals. He has facilitated their tax forms and organised retirement properties for them when that time arrived. He dealt with all their entitlements, filling out all the forms required by government. When they became sick and entered care facilities he showed a great deal of compassion in helping them to adjust to a new phase of their lives.
On this particular matter he has been ably assisted over the last seven years by our Archdiocesan Nurse, Carmel Gibbons. What a great team they’ve made! And we thank you particularly Carmel for all that you’ve done in your work with Kevin over these years!
Even when a Priest reached the time of his death, there was Kevin! He organised their funerals, was often their power of attorney and activated their wills.
As you can see Kevin has been a real “Octopus” worker in this Archdiocese!
Source of aid and assistance
The second point I wish to make is simply this. He has been an unbelievable help in mainly unspoken ways to Priests and Religious with regard to their most significant needs.
I think particularly of two examples.
Examples that I have come across just in the last few weeks.
A few weeks ago two Religious Sisters of Filipino background came to visit me. They were the new Superior General and Assistant of their order the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This order of sisters worked for many years in this Archdiocese. They, for example, were in charge of the Catholic primary school at Narrabundah.
The original, largely Anglo Celtic, nuns slowly dwindled in numbers and then moved out of the Archdiocese. Their leadership now largely Filipino sisters.
These two Filipino Religious Sisters came to thank me for looking after their three deceased nun’s graves who are buried at the Woden cemetery. I wondered why they were thanking me? I had not known anything about this until they alerted me.
When I admitted that I was not the one to be thanked, they wanted to know who they should thank. They commented that they had just come from the Woden cemetery and that the three graves of their sisters where beautifully maintained and had been built with dignity. As they talked I could only think of one person who would do this and sure enough he was in the building when they were visiting. Kevin Croker came and met them and indicated “yes” that indeed he was the one who looked after the tombs and it was a privilege for him to do so. They were so taken by his humility to this selfless task, that out came their cameras and photographs were taken. They thanked him profusely. He dismissed their thanks and reassured them that he would maintain the good condition of the graves in the years ahead. What a great example!
The second example to mention was only last week. I was over in Wagga Wagga. I am the Apostolic Administrator of the Wagga Wagga Diocese at the moment and after I finished my meetings there I went, with my delegate, Fr Kevin O’Reilly, to visit Archbishop Francis Carroll.
As you know Archbishop Carroll has had some very significant health issues in the last few months. He has now moved from independent living at his beloved Ganmain into a nursing home, the Loretta House of Compassion in Wagga Wagga. As Fr O’Reilly and I walked into Archbishop Carroll’s room there they were – Kevin and Carmel. They weren’t dressed as beautifully as they normally would be. They seemed to have work clothes on. Sure enough, they had been over at Wagga Wagga early in the morning and had packed up all Archbishop Carol’s personal belongings from his house and ensured that they were thoughtfully placed elsewhere. They were on their way back to Canberra but had come in to visit Archbishop Carol (Fr Frank). Something looked strange. Kevin had a very thick rope wound up and was carrying it on his shoulder. I had no idea why! Perhaps he had just come from Archbishop Carroll’s house after moving all the furniture out. However, I wasn’t aware of this at first and it looked like the rope was connected to his pastoral care of Archbishop Carrol! I was wondering what on earth he was going to do with this rope with a very sick Archbishop! Anyway I then heard the story and understood that once again he was humbly and beautifully helping Archbishop Carroll above and beyond the call of duty.
A true married partnership
Thirdly, and finally, I cannot continue this tribute to Kevin without at the same time thanking his wonderful wife, Margaret, for all that she has done in assisting Kevin in his many duties over the years.
They are a real testimony of Catholic married love! Some people talk about the Sacrament of Matrimony, but this couple live it out. They are a great inspiration! They are a great Catholic married couple!
I became better acquainted with them a couple of years ago. The three of us were in a car together for a full day. I think we were going to the Ordination of Bishop Macbeth-Green in the Wilcannia Forbes Diocese. It was a car trip of four hours there and four hours back.
Two things I recall. This first being that Kevin Croker seemed to know every bakery store between here and Parkes. He loves cakes!
The second thing I noticed about them, was how well they communicated with each other, I thought there would be long silent pauses in such a big trip. No, the conversation flowed steadily for eight hours! There is a report in the current addition of the Catholic Voice which states that in fact Margaret is the silent spouse in this marriage! Be assured, this is “Fake News”! Margaret can talk as well as anybody else! It was so great to see the two of them and listen to the conversations that they had. They were real Catholic missionaries in the truest sense of the word. Practical charity was their main aim. This they have achieved wonderfully! No doubt they will continue to do that in the years ahead.
So just to conclude, may I thank you dear Kevin and Margaret for your wonderful ministry amongst us. We wish you every best wish and blessing for many years to come.
Finally, can I simply say this; Kevin and Margaret we love you. Kevin and Margaret we are proud of you. Kevin and Margaret, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your good example and all that you’ve done for this Archdiocese.