I rise to commemorate a man who made a great contribution to the community of North Sydney, Father Tony Smith SJ.
Sadly Fr Tony passed away at the age of 70 a little over a week ago.
Although he was born in Perth, in 1947, Fr Tony will be remembered by most as the headmaster of St Aloysius’ College in Milsons Point.
He served the school for seventeen years, from 1986 until 2003, and was a role model and guide for thousands of young people who passed through the gates of this great school.
Fr Tony joined the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, at age 18, pursuing his formation and education in Western Australia and Victoria.
He first came to Sydney in 1973, spending a year at St Ignatius’, Riverview, and returned there again in 1979.
1985 saw Fr Tony move to St Aloysius’ for the first time, becoming its twentieth headmaster the following year. He was also its longest serving headmaster.
Fr Tony played a huge role in the lives of the students at St Aloysius’ over that period.
He was described by one friend as coming to the school with a construction hat and the list of building works undertaken during his leadership confirms this.
Among those projects was the installation in the school chapel of the stained glass windows by Stephen Moore and the Létourneau organ.
These provide something of a key to Fr Tony’s character. As a good Jesuit he did everything to the greater glory of God and these projects in the chapel show that spirit.
But, also as a good Jesuit, a good priest, and a good man, for him this greater glory of God came out most in the pastoral care shown to others.
It is here that Fr Tony left his strongest legacy – in the lives and in the hearts of students.
Wherever two or three old Aloysians are gathered, his name will be mentioned, and imitations given.
One former Aloysian who worked closely with Fr Tony was my predecessor, Joe Hockey, and I know the regard in which Joe held Fr Tony. I am sure he would want to be associated with these remarks.
Fr Tony was not just there for the students in the chapel or the classroom. He was there for them throughout their lives, to celebrate in the good times, at weddings and baptisms and to support and to console in the hard times, not only at funerals but in any time of need.
This example of pastoral care and support was shown again during his appointment to Sacred Heart residence, North Sydney, after retiring as headmaster of St Aloysius.
There he started “Father Tony’s lunch”, a free Christmas lunch catering to 200 people who have nowhere else to go on Christmas day.
Fr Tony passed away on February 18th, having given half his life to the community of North Sydney. He lived ad majorem Dei gloriam, and the evidence is shown in the memories cherished by students, colleagues, confreres, and every one of the thousands he helped.
Vale, Father Tony.