Philip Callaghan

Obituary of Philip Benedict Callaghan

(Father) Philip Benedict Callaghan May 17,1950-July 7, 2024

On July 7th we lost a beloved brother, uncle, friend, priest, counsellor, social justice advocate, story-teller and family clown. Phil was the centre of our Callaghan family.

Phil’s life philosophy was shaped by the values of his decades-long association with the Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and were reflected in one of his favourite books, The Spirituality of Imperfection - Storytelling and the search for meaning: “If we learn to accept our imperfections with humour, as the reflection of our very humanity, we will experience humility and tolerance, we will understand that we are already filled with forgiveness, we will see the gift of our lives, the chains will fall away, and we will be free -- free not so much from fear or 'dependence,' but free for love, for life itself.” Phil struggled with his own imperfections and their impacts on others, thus making for a more honest connection with them".

From an early age, Phil understood the power of storytelling as a means of holding up a mirror to our humanity. Called to the priesthood more than 45 years ago, Phil served in numerous parishes across the Island, inspiring so many with his gospel messages centred on unconditional love and a clarion call to respond to the needs of the poor and the suffering in the world. Those stories and his acceptance of our human imperfections were some of the reasons why many of us kept going to church; he never judged those who had doubts about their faith or religion. For Phil, there was no doctrine, testament or sacrament more important than showing those around you the love they needed at any given time.

The passion with which he championed the rights of the poor, the underprivileged and the disenfranchised could lift us up - be it in a fiery homily or a speech at a protest march. On the flip side, it might mean that in more private conversations, you would be subjected to one of his harangues on the deep pitfalls of our capitalist society and its hyper-individualism!

For those who loved him most dearly, we delighted in his sense of silliness and irreverent shenanigans - his often-scattered stories, rambunctious laughter, and bursts of song. We cherished his abundant curiosity about our lives and the world and how he led from the heart. In his presence, we each felt his grace and compassion - connected, heard and loved.

Phil was pre-deceased by his parents, Benedict and Ruth, his very dear friend, Fr. Robert MacNeil, and his brother, Mike. He will be deeply missed by his family: his sisters, Lou and JoeAnne; his brothers, Pat (Nancy), Bill (Marg), Peter (Ann); sister-in-law, Marg; his many nieces and nephews and their families, Michael, Chantal, Jamie, Lynn, Jeff, Matthew, Spencer, Doug, Jodie, Stephanie, Sean, Ryan and Bryn; as well as his many dear friends, especially, Joe Byrne.

Celebration of Life Mass will be held at St Pius X Church on Saturday August 3, 2024 at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) or the Cooper Institute will be appreciated.

With us always, Phil Callaghan - “Presente”!

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