Vale Father Bob

Many of you would know of Father Bob (Reverend Father Robert John Maguire AM RFD) and how he passed away recently. I suspect that many, myself included, didn’t know that he was an Army Chaplain for many years. The following is collected from a number of websites.

Photo from The Age (Justin McManus) from Fr Bob’s Funeral

Born Robert John Maguire on 14 September 1934 in Thornbury, in Melbourne’s inner-north, he was the youngest son of Scottish immigrants James and Annie Maguire, after older sisters Eileen and Kathleen, and brother James (Jim).

Fr Bob died on Wednesday, 19 April 2023 at Cabrini Hospital, Malvern, at 88 years of age, after several months of ill health. For more than 62 years, he had served the people of God with warmth and humour, and a deep pastoral commitment to those who struggle on the margins.

An irrepressibly cheerful champion for those battling disadvantage, he dedicated his life to brightening the lives of those most in need.

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister of Australia

Fr Bob spent almost forty years as the parish priest at Saints Peter and Pauls Church in South Melbourne (1973 to 2012) and was renowned for his help to the underprivileged.

The people’s priest. A social justice warrior. And a man who dedicated his life to faith and standing up for those most vulnerable

The Hon. (Chris) Christopher John MINNS, MP, Premier of NSW

What is less known is his involvement in the military. He attended the Christian Brothers College, St Kilda on a scholarship from the RSL in the early post-war years. During his time there he was in the school cadets – “through school cadets Maguire began to gain confidence and develop leadership skills and when one of his friends declared he was going to become a priest, Maguire decided he would too“.

After being ordained as a priest, Fr Bob had a number of roles in different Victorian parishes ending up in Seymour in the late 60’s. At some point he was approached to become an Army Chaplain. To quote one website – “He worked with Vietnam War draftees at Puckapunyal, where his casual and irreverent style resonated with the young soldiers” (from

He enjoyed the teamwork and order of the army and communicated well with the young soldiers, once turning the bonnet of a Jeep into an altar while in the bush.

“You bond with your mates and you get the job done, just like Jesus and his 12 mates did,” was his message to the troops.

He served as Chaplain for the Catholic Military Vicariate of Australia (now the Catholic Military Ordinariate of Australia). He was promoted to LTCOL and between 1970 and 1973 he commanded the Character Training Unit for young officers.

There is no mention of further reserve service, but given he was awarded the Reserve Forces Decoration which had a 15-year qualification, he would have continued to serve until atleast 1980, well into his time as Parish Priest in St Kilda.

Whilst technically he had no direct connection with the Victorian Artillery units, Padre Father Maguire attended our RAA Annual Camps on several camps with Reverend John Leaver. He also attended our annual luncheons when possible to offer an extended Grace before Meals. He was well liked.

Comment from MAJGEN Barry, who was CO 2 Fd Regt…

I must have been a very naughty CO of 2 FD Regt from 1967 to 1970 as I was ‘issued’ with two Chaplains – Father Bob and John Leaver. We had full attendances at their Services during Camps as the alternative to Service was, Toilet and/or Kitchen duties!

Vale Reverend Padre Father Bob Maquire

2 thoughts on “Vale Father Bob”

  1. Father Bob was an incredible man and priest who said many masses on the bonnet of many military vehicles. He was a man’s man and was not into discipline or superiority that’s why he would drink in the Sgts mess at pucka much to the discuss of some fellow offices (manly) religious He had an incredible memory and on meeting him at a wedding 30 plus years after my discharge he remembered my name and where we met which is amazing considering the many thousands of people he must have met along the way. RIP Bob👍

  2. I go along with Pete, I introduced Bob to my wife at the Landcox St depot leaving for camp and next time a year later, same place, he greeted her by her first name.
    Another time at site 17 I was passing by he was standing proudly at the door of the officers mess in his blues and said ” Jock I am the man outside Hoyts”
    At an other camp in Tassie he had us running around trying to by his cigars in the middle of nowhere. He won.


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