In Fr Peter Thomas Penny’s room at the St John Vianney House in Ponsonby sat a tin box that contained detailed instructions about his funeral, said Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn.
“When we opened the box, everything was there: a whole order of service, every reading, all the prayers of the faithful,” he said. “Quite a good lesson for us all perhaps.”
Fr Penny, 80, passed away on May 21 at Auckland Hospital due to multiple causes and ultimately heart failure. He was ordained as a priest on April 9, 1985 by then Auckland Bishop Denis Browne at Holy Cross church in Papatoetoe.
At a memorial service held at the Christ the King church in Owairaka on May 24, Msgr Pat Ward noted in his homily that none of the readings were in the Lectionary’s list of readings for funerals.
“But they tell us something about Peter,” he said.
The first reading, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, told of how there is a time for everything. “It was an expression of Peter’s own wonder and it’s the wonder of creation,” Msgr Ward said.
Fr Penny’s niece, Linda Hicks read the second reading from 1 Corinthians, which was about the qualities of love.
Fr Penny was born in Darwen, England on July 29, 1936. He studied there and eventually entered retail management.
In the early 1960’s, he went to Melbourne, Australia as an advertising and promotions manager.
In 1978, he joined the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart at St Paul’s National Seminary in Sydney and had three years of formal training.
Zealandia reported in 1985 that Fr Penny spent time in Bathurst Island sharing life and experiences with the Tiwi Aboriginal tribe.
He came to New Zealand in 1981 and entered Holy Cross College in Mosgiel the following year.
He was assistant parish priest of Papatoetoe parish in 1986. He later became parish priest of Howick, Dargaville, Kaihu, Tangiteroria, Ruawai, Kawerau, Edgecumbe, Matata, Wellsford, Mangawhai and Maungaturoto.
A funeral Mass was also held at Sacred Heart church in Dargaville on May 25, followed by burial at Matakohe Cemetery.