The family of renowned New Zealand television producer Ross Jennings suffered a double loss on Good Friday, with two deaths within a few hours.
Mr Jennings, 71, a former head of drama at TVNZ, died on March 25, after what his death notice described as his “final act after a brave and hard fought battle” against cancer.
And his death was preceded by that of his mother-in-law, Edna Peters, 96, who died on the same day.
So his family had funerals on consecutive days the following week at St Patrick’s Church in Pukekohe.
The congregation at Mr Jennings’ funeral filled St Patrick’s to overflowing.
The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Patrick Dunn, with seven priests concelebrating.
In the homily, Fr Brian Prendeville, SM, stated that had Mr Jennings lived in ancient Greece,
he would have been “laurelled and feted as a giant in drama”.
Fr Prendeville referred to Mr Jennings co-directing and producing a Passion play staged at Villa Maria winery in Mangere one year ago.
The priest described the Passion play as a “masterpiece”, with all of Mr Jennings’ energy and talent on display, despite suffering pain from the cancer in his back.
Mr Jennings on that night told Fr Prendeville that having unproven actors deliver such a stunning performance testified to the Passion itself being the greatest story ever told.
The actors, producers and directors in the congregation at the requiem Mass were urged not to let the Passion play die.
Mr Jennings had hoped it would be staged every two years.
One of the priests at the requiem was Fr Jack McLain, SJ, from Australia.
Mr Jennings had worked for decades on a project to have Jesuits staff a Catholic secondary school in the Franklin region.
Among the shows on which Mr Jennings worked during his television career were Close to Home, Moynihan, The Mad Dog Gang and Under the Mountain.
At Communicado, he also created and produced Middlemore, an early New Zealand reality TV show, and the longrunning Police 10-7.
Mr Jennings was also heavily involved with Maori TV’s Anzac Day coverage.
Before he died, Mr Jennings was in the process of making a reality series for Maori Television about Parliament.
He is survived by his wife Carmel, six children and five grandchildren.