Pā Steven Thomas Hancy was born in Wairoa on September 23, 1953, and passed away in Whanganui on May 27, 2017.

Pā Hancy was ordained at Mohaka Marae by Bishop Peter Cullinane on February 6, 1988, and served in the parishes of Hawera, Taradale, New Plymouth, Patea and Waverley, Hastings West, Central Hawkes Bay and Whanganui.

Pā had suffered from a number of health issues over the years; however he always managed to make a remarkable comeback. When things were just starting to look good for him again in the middle of 2016, he suffered a setback when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He travelled to Palmerston North every day for three months for treatment, and along with the prayer of the people his recovery was gradual and in early 2017 he started celebrating Mass at Holy Family Church.

He was gradually branching out to the other Mass centres in Whanganui as he felt more comfortable. He was able to travel to Tauranga at Easter and participate in his beloved Hui Aranga. He returned with glowing reports that the hui was going from strength to strength and looked forward to hosting it in 2018 in Ohakune.

He especially enjoyed the weekly class Masses with the students from St Marcellin’s School, and always encouraged them in their waiata (especially when it involved actions like the Rainbow Song), Te Reo and participation. The most recent highlight for Pā’s ministry while in Whanganui was when Bishop Charles Drennan asked him to proclaim the Gospel in Te Reo at the Mass of the Oils at the Cathedral at Easter.

A number of people did not know his hidden talent for needlework (tāniko) and harakeke flaxwork. He had made all his Mass vestments and embroidered them. His belts and kits were snapped up by gift shops. His skill at needlework kept him occupied during his recuperation.

His gentle manner and his infectious smile will always be remembered by the parishioners. He loved being with the people but treasured his quiet times as well: his sermons were always short and to the point. He was a wonderful listener, very intuitive and could sum people up in a few moments.

On the Thursday before he died he said Mass at Holy Family, but had asked Fr Adonis Rancho to say the Vigil Mass on Saturday as he was also rostered to celebrate the Sunday Mass for St Marcellin’s School.

However on the Saturday, after frantic efforts by the Ambulance and Fire Officers, his heart gave up the battle.

Pā Hancy was a cousin of Pā Henare Tate who died recently in the Hokianga. He was very close to his family — a big whānau with wide connections right across the country.

His funeral Mass was concelebrated at Waipapa-a-Iwi Marae at Mohaka on May 31 by Pā Arthur Toothill, Bishop Charles Drennan, Bishop Peter Cullinane, and a great number of his brother priests. He was buried at the family urupa at Raupunga, Hawke’s Bay.

Fr Marcus Francis celebrated a memorial Miha (Mass) for Pā Steve Hancy at St Mary’s church, Whanganui on June 18. Local parishioners, friends and iwi from the river attended. It was followed by refreshments and a time of reflecting and reminiscing on Pā’s journey.

Haere ra. Rest in peace Pā.