It is with deep sadness that we share the news that Fr Kevin Mogg AM died on Saturday 26 February, aged 89 (just two months shy of his 90th birthday). He was born on 23 April 1932. Fr Kevin had spent over five decades as a leader in Catholic social services. He was an inspiring parish leader for over six decades, an educator, and a prison and youth justice chaplain. For 24 years he also served on the Board of CatholicCare where he continued to serve as Emeritus Board member.
Fr Kevin was the founder of Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV) and was a member of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council for 15 years. His dedication to the Church and towards creating a just society had been a lifelong mission, and he encouraged many others to take part in this mission, too.
Bernie Cronin, Chair of CSSV’s Board, penned the following tribute:
The CSSV community is deeply saddened by the passing of Fr Kevin Mogg. His achievements are legendary, spanning diverse ministries: parish, prisons, rectorship of the seminary, counselling, CSSV and other bodies. Even amongst these great endeavours, it is the fine character of the man which is most endearing. In his quiet, calm and respectful way, Kevin was simply present with people, and in the support and service he offered. A true ‘servant leader’, Kevin worked tirelessly towards a better future, a more hope-filled future, and encouraged very many others to share a sense of belonging and to take action towards a more just, equitable and compassionate society.
Kevin founded CSSV as he could see the benefits of co-operation, co-ordination and connection for the many small and large Catholic social service agencies. Kevin maintained his contact with and support for CSSV, coming to events to meet and simply be with people. Kevin leaves us with his legacy, in the recent words of Pope Francis, encouraging us to restore the ethics of fraternity and solidarity, regenerating the bonds of trust and belonging.
Exactly as Kevin would see it.
Denis Fitzgerald, a former CSSV Executive Director who had known Fr Kevin for 50 years, reflected:
Kevin was a wonderful, warm presence, who revealed the God of love to so many. He did this on a personal level, and in his lifelong work to build stronger communities and a more just world. He had a gift for enabling others to raise their sights, and to make the contributions that they were capable of.
On a personal level, Kevin was a guide and mentor who made quite a difference to my life over many decades. I’ll miss him dearly. May he now rest in peace, and may the family and all of us who loved him be comforted by the memories of his rich and inspiring time with us.
In January 2019, Fr Kevin celebrated the launch of his book, An Enabling Life, with friends, family and colleagues. The book captures the journey of his ministry and vision in an insightful and engaging account. Author Anne Tuohey – who first met Fr Kevin when she started work at CSSV – worked with him to bring this book to life and collate the stories and thoughts that portray his astonishing life’s work.
Speaking of Fr Kevin’s death, Anne wrote:
‘We’ve lost a beautiful, welcoming, thoughtful, inclusive priest and man who really understood social justice and community strengthening, long before these words were merely catch phrases.’
The staff of CSSV share all of these sentiments.
Rest in peace, Fr Kevin. Your legacy lives on in the work we continue to do.
A copy of the eulogy given by Fr Kevin Mogg’s niece, Marcelle Mogg at his funeral is available here.
Reflecting on An Enabling Life – celebration with a sense of community
‘The recurring theme throughout the book is the way in which Fr Kevin motivated people to contribute their talents for the benefit of others. He empowered many young people to develop leadership skills and a strong sense of community that would serve them well for life,’ reads the description on the back cover of An Enabling Life.
During the book launch held in January 2019, it was clear that Fr Kevin had developed the most wonderful, strong and meaningful relationships throughout his life.
There were people from all walks of life in attendance – all of whom had either had a part in shaping the person Fr Kevin was at the time, or who had been shaped by his friendship and support throughout their own lives.
Judge Michael McInerney, relative and friend of Fr Kevin, was invited to officially launch An Enabling Life. He told great stories of the wondrous life Fr Kevin had led.
“[He is] an intelligent, determined, loyal and obedient person who has a strong faith and has lived by that faith,” said Michael. He also noted that Fr Kevin was the first state-appointed prison chaplain – and what better person to do this than someone who is so compassionate and slow to condemn.
Speaking of his time as prison chaplain, Fr Kevin said at that time, ‘People often ask me about the evil deeds of people, perpetrated on other humans. I can honestly say that over all those years [as a prison chaplain] and all the hundreds, maybe thousands of people I’ve met in the prison system and juvenile system, I’ve only ever encountered one or two people that I would describe as evil. Most people do bad things because of what has been perpetrated on them by others. And I truly believe that people generally are inherently good – it’s what happens to them on the journey [that changes them].’
The many who were involved in the process of creating An Enabling Life explained it as a ‘labour of love’. The stories within span decades, and some have been written by Fr Kevin’s dearest friends and colleagues.
Watch an interview with Fr Kevin Mogg where he speaks about the book, here.
Book launch story and photos by Liz Gellel, CatholicCare Victoria
Note: This is an edited version of the original story, which was originally published following the book launch in 2019.