It is with sad and heavy hearts that we farewelled our dear Br Peter on the 22nd June. Br Peter has been a cherished member of our Franciscan Community, our staff and loved by many who visited our Retreat centre and the wider community. He, with a band of volunteers ran the Mission shop at Onehunga for over 20 years, he would look out for those who needed a ‘helping hand’, to make sure they got a good deal. More lately he has worked tirelessly on our grounds and buildings, with a particular love for hydrangeas. Br Peter was kind and generous, a tall slender man with a great sense of humour, who made us feel at home.
Please click on the following link for detailed information about Br Peter’s life.
The following homily for Br Peter was given by Fr Anthony Malone ofm and a Tribute by his good friend Mary Casey will follow
FUNERAL HOMILY : PETER DALTON, OFM
On Sunday afternoon of the 16 of June, our brother Peter was dying. In a small room at “Mercy Parklands” there was a simple ceremony. Watching were two of Peter’s close friends. Standing next to Peter were three of his Franciscan brothers.
Brother Arul began: “The peace of the Lord be with you”, he said. Brother Arul continued: “Let us entrust our brother Peter to the grace and power of Jesus Christ, so that the Lord may ease his suffering and grant him salvation.”
A short reading followed taken from the Gospel of St. John. We were led into a deeper understanding of our shared faith. ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him. Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.’
Then followed Petitions of Faith as we asked that Peter:
Be freed from all harm
Be relieved of all suffering
In silence, the hands of Peter’s three Franciscan brothers were in turn rested upon Peter’s head. First Brother Arul, then Brother Anthony, then Brother Michael. This ancient powerful symbol called upon God’s Holy Spirit to come, to dwell with and to strengthen Peter. Brother Arul, with consecrated oil, signed the mark of the Cross on Peter’s head: “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the Grace of the Holy Spirit”.Again, with consecrated oil, Brother Arul signed the mark of the Cross on Peter’s hands: “May the Lord who frees you from sin, save you and raise you up.” Brother Michael then held out a small white purse. In the purse was a locket. In the locket was a consecrated host. Brother Anthony took a tiny part of the host,Peter slowly opened his mouth. The Body of Christ was placed on Peter’s tongue and Peter once again was with his Lord. This simple ceremony ended with everyone reciting the prayer that Jesus taught us. The lines of strain on Peter’s face were now softening. The tight grip of Peter’s hands were loosening and then came this prayer:
In the name of God the Almighty Father who created you, In the name of Jesus Christ, who suffered for you, In the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you: Go forth faithful Peter, May you live in peace, May your home be with God in Zion, May Mary, the angels and all the saints come to meet you as you go forth from this life.
So we watched his breathing soft and low as in his chest the wave of life kept heaving to and fro. And when evening came, dim and sad his quiet eyelids closed.
BUT Peter had a different dawn than ours. When the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens. Death for all followers of Christ is simply a door through which we pass. On the other side of that door the warm embrace of a loving merciful God awaits us. This is what we believe. This is what Peter Dalton believed. In his life and in his dying Brother Peter Dalton lived this faith and his witness is a legacy for us who remain. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house’. Fr Anthony Malone ofm
TRIBUTE TO BR PETER BY MARY CASEY
Hi, I’m Mary Casey or as Br Peter would often say … She who must be obeyed!!
You will all know different aspects of Br’s life. This is a little about his family and then how he became our family.
Br Peter was born in Heidelberg Melbourne. The 6th out of 9 children. He was premature and his mother was very sick at the time. His oldest sister, 12 year old Peg put him in a shoe box, then kept him in the oven of their fire stove. He only weighed a couple of pounds and was not expected to live but clearly he did, and was very proud of this fact. Br adored his mother but always referred to Peg as his second mother, whom he also loved dearly.
When Br was 12 yrs old he left school to attend the Preston Technical school where he qualified as a cabinet maker. He apparently rode round on a motor bike but went to church each morning before work. His sister Irene asked him what made him become a friar. Br replied that each morning as he rode past St Mary’s school he saw a sign which said “Give your trade to God” and so in his mid 20’s he did. During his novitiate he was apparently caught smoking with some nurses who were meant to be on retreat. He was given a very stern ultimatum and shown the gate. I can only assume it must have been all about the nurses and not the smoking!!! Br Peter would have celebrated his 60th anniversary in August.
Our family first heard of Br Peter on Waitangi Day Feb 1976. I was 16 at the time. We were rushing round getting ready for our annual church picnic. However my brother Jim decided to retrieve his skateboard from the middle of road and got hit by a car . So as my brother lay badly injured and screaming obscenities from the road, and my mother knelt over him saying Hail Mary’s, Br Peter phoned to say hello. My sister Jane very quickly ended the call. Maybe Br was sent as an angel although he never quite gave off that angelic feel.
He was not put off easily though and soon turned up for a visit. He knew nobody in NZ, but had been given our number from mum’s cousin who was a priest in Australia. He must have been desperate to pick a family with 7 children!!
Many things changed that year. Sunday afternoon visits from Brother quickly became a routine. Sunday lunch roast was changed to Sunday Dinner so Br would be properly fed. These dinners were quickly followed by a game of Poker with several others joining in including the Parish Priest. Laughter could be heard through out our large house! Br had a wicked sense of humour and that never changed. Mary Wright, a very good Irish friend and widower could often be heard calling Br a scurrilous retch!!
Br decided he wanted us all to call him Peter but that didn’t sit right with our parents so Dad came up with Brer. We thought he looked like a Brer Rabbit with his big ears, and so the name stuck with us and that was how we then introduced him.
My younger brother Pete who was mentally disabled died in the November that year. Brer managed to have 4 Priests, a Bishop and himself on the alter. That meant a huge amount to my parents. Such an amazing send off for our little angel.
By the end of the Year Brer’s presence in our family was firmly cemented not only by his love and support but also his quick wit, teasing and affection. It was easy to see he enjoyed our company as much as we did his. It was around this time that Brer declared himself our Eldest Brother. We thought this was great as would surely make him eligible for the dishes but try as we might this never eventuated.
Over the Christmas holidays Brer introduced us all, including Mary Wright to the Friary Bach at Te Muri Bay. I think we spent every holiday up there and it remains one of my favourite places in NZ. Brer’s sisters Peg, Cath and niece Dianne also visited. It only had three bedrooms and a room off the veranda but, it was a bit like the loaves and fishes, no matter how many came, we somehow all fitted.Dad and Brer spent endless hours maintaining the batch and mowing the lawns.
Brer’s PENANCE was that he often looked after my younger sisters Clare and Cath while Mum and Dad travelled back to work during the week. Just like Brer rabbit, Brer could be very sneaky. One day he organized a game of hide and seek, Clare and Cath hid outside for about 30minutes before giving up and looking for Brer. When they got back to the batch he had locked all the doors and was having a siesta.
As many of you will know, Brer was no handyman in the kitchen. He was accused of trying to poison Clare and Cath several times by feeding them soup from cans that had been at the batch so long they had rusted.
For 23 years Brer ran the Friary Mission shop in Onehunga – it became so popular that he expanded into the neighbouring shop. Not only did this provide a fantastic service to the community it provided Brer with his interesting wardrobe, shorts and walk socks for all seasons. He also bought one of the Grandchildren ‘Red Ted’ At 27 years of age Rebecca still treasures Red Ted! The ladies that worked in the shop not only became firm friends but treated Brer like royalty. They spoilt him with all sorts of home cooked goodies.
Later Brer became the Friary Maintenance and Groundsman along with Tommy Bates. He loved that job too. Hours and hours of sanding, painting, and fixing. He did a fantastic job and Tommy and Brer were firm friends.
My sister Jane comes to the Friary every year for a patchwork week end. Last year Brer noticed her with a hanky and suggested she might like several new packets he had been given over the years and had no use for. As he handed them over he told Jane to be careful as some of them may have some urine on them! At Jane’s horrified expression as she looked more carefully at the hankies, Brer told her to look in the corner and pointed to the little letter P carefully sown onto the corner!!
Brer has been to every birthday, Christmas, Christening, funeral and family gathering we have had since joining our family 43 years ago Through out all this time Brer showed an unwavering faith in God. We had many religious discussions, Brer was a very humble man but he certainly had a positive influence on our family.
On a personal note I had Brer on standby several times before I dropped a bomb on my parents. Brer would be fully briefed about whatever situation I had found myself in, and he would aim to arrive at the time I would be making my hasty retreat so he could calm the waters. I can never recall Brer actually giving me advise, he was simply always there for me. So although I have helped Brer over the last few years. He has had my back for many, many more.
We know that the last few years have been difficult for Brer. The Friary was his home, and the Franciscans and staff were also his family. The home cooked food often made especially for him. My sister Sue once made him some soup. When she later inquired how he like it. Brer replied it was the eighth best soup he’d had that week.
Moving to Mercy Parklands was a very big challenge. He gave up smoking and found his choice of meals reduced to what he called colour coded food.
Brer I hope you are now with God, along with your Australian family, NZ family, Franciscan family and all the many friends that have departed along the way.
Rest in Peace Brer Rabbit, we will miss you dearly. Mary Casey
Well that’s about it for this month. Br Philip is safely back from his sabbitical and we have been busy here with many different people. We are thankful to God for calling us to this work and enjoy being part of this particular family of grace.
If you are looking for a place to hold your next meeting or conference or retreat and you think we may ‘fit the bill’ please contact us on 09 625 6651 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs with us.
Thanks for your support and encouragement. May God take care of you.
On behalf of the Franciscan Team Betty