Fr George Duggan dies aged 100

Well-known Marist priest and “defender of the faith” Rev Dr George Duggan died on Sunday at the age of 100.

In recent years he had became increasingly frail, and lived in the care of the Silverstream Home of Compassion.

Despite impaired hearing, he enjoyed visitors and conversation and happily recounted stories of his many and wide experiences.

Regarded as one of this country’s eminent theologians and educators, Fr Duggan (affectionately known by his colleagues and former students as “Chalky”) enjoyed a long career as a teacher, lecturer and author of books and articles and a prodigious number of letters to editors in publications around the English-speaking world.

In the 1930’s there was a need in New Zealand for more qualified people to teach philosophy and theology, and because of his outstanding academic abilities he was sent to Rome in August 1933 to undertake a 4-year course in theology at the Angelicum University.

He gained a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) from the Angelicum with a Magna Cum Laude (“with great praise”).

His thesis was on “The Church in the Writings of St John Fisher.”Duggan was a regular and generally controversial contributor to the letters to the editor in various publications.

Those who knew him personally however knew a very different man from his public persona.

Prominent writer and social commentor, Monty Holcroft, who was the Listener’s editor from 1949 wrote of him: “For years I had been receiving strongly-reasoned letters defending conservative positions on politics and religion from G.H. Duggan, and I imagined a stern person, but when I met him I was surprised to find he was small cheerful clergyman with rather large eyes”.

Fr Duggan was a keen sportsman, a counsellor and a man skilled in the domestic arts of cooking and preserving.

His Requiem will be celebrated  at St Mary of the Angels, Wellington at 10.00am Thursday.

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News category: New Zealand.

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