Requiem Mass scheduled for ‘outstanding priest’ Fr Neville Drinkwater OAM
He was an outstanding priest, according to Archbishop Christopher Prowse, a much-loved parish priest, mentor, and friend.
Fr Neville Drinkwater OAM passed away earlier this week, aged 98. He was, at that point, the Archdiocese’s oldest priest.
Fr Drinkwater was ordained a priest in 1954 and ministered throughout the Archdiocese. He is best remembered as the parish priest at St Thomas Aquinas parish at Charnwood in Canberra, where he ministered for over 40 years from 1974 to 2019.
He was awarded a medal in the Order of Australia in 2016 for his services to the Catholic Church.
A Requiem Mass for Fr Neville Drinkwater OAM will be celebrated at St Thomas Aquinas Parish, West Belconnen, at 11 am on Tuesday, 7 February 2023.
Fr Alexander Osborne, now the assistant priest at Christopher’s Manuka, was a teenage parishioner at Charnwood when he first met Fr Drinkwater.
An immigrant from the UK with his family, the former St Thomas Aquinas altar server spoke to the Catholic Voice to share his reflections on his former parish priest.
I think it’s safe to say I would not be here as a priest if it wasn’t for Father Neville Drinkwater.
Something that struck me from my teenage years at Charnwood was seeing Neville’s love for the priesthood, especially for the Mass. To see him get out of bed early every weekday, every Sunday. A man his age could be retired. Yet he fought it, and fought it he did.
This really showed the love he had for his ministry and the love he had for his people.
Neville showed me the value of being a priest. I still remember one of his homilies. He said a priest is like a signpost that always points to Christ.
I guess you might not have thought we would be fast friends. I was about 15. He was about a young 85. I had become an altar server, not out of devotion to the Mass but because I wanted an opportunity to pick Fr Neville’s brain. I’d been reading the Bible and wanted to pester him with questions.
To his remarkable credit – and it speaks highly of his patience – he put me on [as altar server] just about every Sunday because he could see something going on…
He was ordained ten years before the Second Vatican Council. He came into the Church in a period of so much change, great polarisation, and great uncertainty. But Neville was a man who never went to the right or the left. He kept his eyes focused on God and devoted himself to doing what was right and good. I’d always admired that about him.
He was a wonderful resource, particularly in high school. We struggled a bit with suicide and suicide attempts in school, not of myself, but of other students. And it’s amazing, you know, the places you run to when you’re suddenly shocked or scared. For some reason, I was certain – go to Fr Drinkwater. He’ll have the right answer.
And with his usual patience and wealth of experience, he could explain to me how to pray for these students, be a good friend, and help them.
Neville was a remarkable man, beloved by many, especially those in Charnwood to whom he gave 40 years of service. He was a model of priestly love and commitment.
He had a love for God and a love for his people.
What a beautiful tribute by the young altar boy. His words gave flesh to this apparently gentle caring man of God who revealed( so it seems) the heart of a loving compassion God.
Thank you Alex, for you tribute to a very faithful priest. I think Father Drinkwater would be the only priest in our Archdiocese to establish a Parish and remain in it until he retired. And now to have his funeral from the same church. A truely dedicated priest. Alex You have a wonderful model to follow.