Catholic Church in St George and Shire loses much-loved priest

Father Isidore Anantharaj and Archbishop Anthony Fisher. Picture: Giovanni Portelli, the Catholic Weekly

Father Isidore Anantharaj and Archbishop Anthony Fisher. Picture: Giovanni Portelli, the Catholic Weekly

Father Isidore Anantharaj, a Catholic priest who was much loved in the St George and Sutherland Shire parishes in which he served, has died after a long struggle with cancer.

Fr Isidore was known for his big smile, warmth and humility.

He was parish priest of Blakehurst and South Hurstville and his previous parishes included Cronulla.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher said Fr Isidore, who died in the early hours of this morning, was "an outstanding example of the changing face of the Church in Australia".

He was originally a priest in India before making Australia his home.

In addition to his parish role, Fr Isidore was the Episcopal Vicar for Immigration - a key adviser to the archbishop and clerical head of the church's office working for the welfare and settlement of refugees and migrants.

Archbishop Fisher said in a statement Fr Isidore was "a dear friend".

"He was a true man of God and God's people and he wanted to spend himself completely in their service," Archbishop Fisher said.

"He loved the flocks he led in the several Sydney parishes he served. And he loved his work with the Immigration Office and the ethnic chaplaincies - work that often demanded patience, wisdom and diplomacy.

"Though he struggled with cancer for a good while, he always resisted when I suggested reducing his duties.

"Isidore was an outstanding example of the changing face of the Church in Australia.

"Originally a priest of Madras (India), he made Sydney his home a long while ago and was formally incardinated into the archdiocese in the year of World Youth Day 2008. He was beloved of parishioners, family members and brother priests.

"Every time I saw Isidore in hospital, at parish celebrations or priests' meetings, he brought his big smile, generous spirit and reassuring words. I will miss that smile and all his support.

"Until we meet again, dear brother, God grant you peace of body and soul, light perpetual for your mind, and well-deserved eternal rest."

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