Tributes pour in for Pacific missionary Bishop Robin Leamy

Catholic church leaders and members of the Pacific congregation have honoured the work of Bishop Robin Leamy SM, who died on the 1st of January 2022, aged 87.

Emeritus Bishop of Auckland Patrick Dunn says he played a significant role in the growth of the church in Oceania. 

“Bishop Bob, as he was fondly called, spent much of his priestly life in missionary work in the Pacific, in Samoa and in Fiji, and later in the Cooks as Bishop of Rarotonga from 1984 to 1996.

“He was a man of many talents, as an educator, a leader and administrator. I will be forever grateful for his wisdom and friendship and his generous support.”

Bishop Leamy returned to New Zealand, working as Assistant Bishop to Bishop Dunn at the Auckland Diocese, before retiring in 2009. 

In 2011 he published an autobiography, detailing his life growing up as one of five children in Wellington and his faith journey that took him around the world – from Rome to the Pacific. 

Many in the Pacific community commemorated his passing online. 

“A good friend and support when he was parish priest in Lepea and I was at St Joseph’s College Lotopa in the 1970’s.”

“RIP Bishop, a patient coach. He was stationed up at Vaea and served the Carmelites I Vailima. He used to pick us up every morning, Monday to Saturday. This is one of the many fond memories we have of such a gentle, kind priest.”

“Rest in peace Bishop Leamy. Never forget when you used to say “fai se ato” when about to catch the softball ball back in the late 60s in Samoa.”

Most Reverend Robin Walsh SM died peacefully at St Joseph's Home on 1st January 2022.

PMN Tonga producer Filipo Motulalo says the Bishop had a personal connection to the Tongan Catholic Community through his friends Patelisio Finau and Soane Lilo Foliaki, and his younger sister, Sr Patricia Leamy, was a missionary and a teacher at St Mary’s High School. 

Prior to Bishop Leamy's appointment in the Cook Islands, he worked as a Marist missionary in Samoa for almost three decades as a teacher and priest, before serving in Fiji for almost ten years. 

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at St Therese today at 11.30am, (livestreaming link for this Mass, followed by interment at the Panmure Catholic Cemetery in Panmure.