Funeral of Bp Anthony Joseph Burgess
On Wednesday morning 30th October, 2013 a prayerful congregation gathered at St. Mary's Cathedral Sydney, Australia, for the funeral Mass of Bp Anthony Joseph Burgess, the Bishop Emeritus of Wewak Diocese, PNG. It was a simple but solemn funeral with Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne as Principal Celebrant in the absence of His Eminence George Cardinal Pell. There were also a good number of Australian Bishops present for the Requim Mass as well as there were many con-celebrating Priests from Sydney as well as those who came especially for the occasion. Among the PNG Bishops present were, the Emeriti Abp Brian Barnes ofm of Port Moresby, Austen Crapp ofm of Aitape, Desmond Moore msc of Alotau - SIdeia, Apostolic Nuncio to PNG and Solomon Islands- Apb Michael Banack, Abp Douglas Young SVD of Mt.Hagen, Bp Otto Separy of Aitape, Bp Rochus J Tatamai msc of Bereina. Among the Priests were Frs Peter Artikan, Ben Fleming msc, Paul Sire Lonot, O.Carm who also organized the PNG Sydney community who sang during offertory and later Macquarie Park Cemetery. This community had representatives from all over PNG.
Before the Requim Mass began, Patricia Thomas and Greg Burgess placed a Special Franciscan Pall on Tony’s coffin with the prayers “On the day of his Baptism, Tony was dressed in a white robe, a symbol of the reality that he was now clothed in Christ. By his word and example he carried the love and dignity of Christ wherever has as called.”
Fr Denis Allen of Tasmania placed the Book of the Gospels on Tony’s coffin with the prayers “Tony entered more deeply into his baptismal commitment through his ordination. He preached the Gospel of Christ by both word and example in Tasmania and Papua New Guinea.”
Fr Eugene Zurias of The Neo-Catechumenal Way working in PNG placed the Chalice and the Stole of Priestly Office on Tony’s coffin with the prayer: “Tony was immersed into the Eternal Priesthood of Christ. As a consecrated Priest he was faithful to offering the Eucharist daily for his people and tireless in his ministering of the Sacraments.”
Bishop Otto Separy of Aitape placed the Mitre – Symbol of Episcopacy on Tony’s coffin with the prayer: “Tony was a true Shepherd of the flock entrusted to his care. His burning zeal for the building of the Kingdom here on earth impelled him to teach and guide his people tirelessly and without counting any personal cost.”
The readers were Margaret Burgess and Maureen Burgess, both sisters of Bishop Tony while the Gospel was proclaimed by Fr Carmelo Scibberas, priest of the Diocese of Broken Bay. Fr Michael McEntee a priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and former Rector of Holy Spirit Seminary Bomana, preached an inspiring homily drawing from the Sacred Scriptures as forming the basis for the life and pastoral ministry of Bishop Tony.
The Prayers of the Faithful was truly universal with representatives from the Congregation associated with and working in Wewak Diocese. A member of the Missionary Sisters of Charity; Mr Zoilo Agabe – Business Manager, CBC-PNGSI, Br Aengus Kavanagh – Patrician Brother, Mrs Clare Murphy – Newcastle Diocese – representing the Secular Order of St Francis, Sr. Alicia Vazquez Zapata – Marianites Sisters from Wewak, Br. Henry Adler SVD.
The Burgess family sincerely thanked everyone for their prayers and attendance thus sharing in the celebration of Tony's life. Their gratitude and sentiments were expressed thus “We were privileged for care for Tony during his recent illness. One of the unexpected blessing of this time was for us to experience the love, prayers and support for Tony and ourselves form so many people, in Australia, Papua New Guinea and beyond. Our thoughts today are very much with the community of the Diocese of Wewak as they too celebrate the Eucharist in thanksgiving for Bishop Ton’s service amongst them. We are indebted to them for their loving care of our brother during his years with them.” May the Lord welcome Bishop Tony into eternal life and May perpetual light shine on him and he shall live forever in the presence of the Lord.