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Fr. John Carnie, C.Ss.R. – Rest in Peace

Fr. John Carnie, C.Ss.R


Born: September 17, 1930
Professed as a Redemptorist: February 2, 1954
Ordained priest: March 20, 1960
Died: August 10, 2011



In the latter part of his life and for a quarter of a century, Redemptorist Fr. John Carnie worked among youth. He was authentically young at heart even to the end.  His youthfulness was never contained by his native shyness, but would burst through in unaffected fun and humour in any given moment.  His ready joy connected with one another all the people around him.

Underneath this approachable exterior lived a considered man, a person who accepted people as they were and who found God in people of every stripe. His belief in the fundamental goodness within everyone touched-off his generous spirit and this was behind his selfless availability to young and old.

Fr. John Carnie was a master conductor in the way he used the symbols and structures of religion to open others to the wonderful mysteries of life underpinning them.  In their ordinary experiences from birth to grave he unveiled to people the face of God looking back at them.  He light-heartedly lifted people’s gaze till they discovered themselves in transcendent moments springing from their own lives and their own relationships.

Fr. John Carnie, C.Ss.RIn later years Fr. John would return home to his community, at Majella Court in Kew, quite delighted to have been part of some school, family or group celebration, ever thankful that God’s face had been unveiled once again among those with whom he had shared the evening.

There were times too when he would return obviously moved by a person’s sorrow or a family’s struggle. These were times he would sometimes share how helpless he felt. But Fr. John’s ministry was largely blessed because he was not afraid of his own helplessness.  In those moments he would simply be with people, and that was all they wanted, all they needed. He knew when and how to leave it to God.

John Robert Carnie joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists) in 1954. Over all the years since, not least over the last 25 years among his brothers at Kew, he was a beloved friend to his confreres. To the end of his life he was available not only when he was on mission but also within his community at home. Until he went to hospital only a month ago he would gladly tutor in their studies the Redemptorist students with whom he lived

In1960, in Ballarat, Victoria, John Carnie was ordained priest. Though this was just before the Second Vatican Council Fr. John’s mission went on to become a shining light of the openness and dialogue for which the Council stood.

After ordination Fr. John was stationed in Sydney, Auckland (NZ), Christchurch (NZ),   Brisbane, Ballarat, and Newcastle.  From all these places he preached missions and retreats up and down the country. In both Christchurch and Brisbane, while still a young priest, he was rector and leader of the community. During 1980-81 Fr. John studied at the Siloam Spirituality Centre under the auspices of St. Louis University in St Louis, United States. He followed these studies up with a further year at the Heart of Life Centre, shortly after being transferred to Melbourne - firstly to Yarraville and then in 1983 to Kew where he remained till the end of his life. In Melbourne he was able to follow even more closely his beloved Carlton (football team)! They now have a barracker in heaven.

John Robert Carnie was the eldest of three children born to Ronald and Catherine (nee Murphy) Carney.  His father was originally from Tasmania and his mother from Gippsland, Victoria. John was born in Bairnsdale in 1930. The family moved to Benalla when John was about six years of age. After leaving school he joined what was then known as the Postmaster General’s Department (PMG) where he was a telegraph messenger, postman and switchboard operator. While working for the PMG John realised he was called by God to something else, and went on from there to join the Redemptorist missionaries. What a blessing for all that he did, especially for us his confreres!

Fr. John Carnie, C.Ss.RIf you would care to light a candle and make a prayer for Fr. John, please click HERE

If you wish to understand how Fr. John saw his mission, please click HERE