The controversial Catholic priest stars in a new documentary 'In Bob We Trust'. To say that Father Bob Maguire isn't your average priest would be something of an understatement.
The 79-year-old clergyman presents a Triple J radio show, has over 99,000 followers on Twitter and heads up his own ‘Bob Squad’ of community outreach workers and volunteers. He’s also partial to the odd swear word or two.
“I'm not a great lover of pats on the back. I'm a duty-driven person which is boring but at the same time, it's satisfying in a sense that you know that all you've done was your duty.”
Maguire's latest un-priestly escapade is his starring role in a new documentary.
Directed by Ghost Pictures' Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein, 'In Bob We Trust' looks at Maguire's clash with church officials when he was asked to end his 38 year stint as the parish priest at a South Melbourne church in 2009.
“The filmmakers must have heard what I would have thought would be the unremarkable news that the priest at St Peter's and St Paul's was being asked by the Archbishop to resign but wasn't going to go willingly.
"Of course I was apprehensive but because I'm feral and I've had to make snap decisions for most of my life and trust them, I thought this business of why I had to resign when other blokes of 75 don't was too big.
"I had a feeling there something untoward had befallen us and that there might have been collateral damage within the neighbourhood. I thought they might help me to sort it out intellectually.”
Filmed over four years, the documentary shines a light on the complicated area of Catholic church hierarchy, as well as Maguire's unique approach to ministry.
‘Father Bob’, who has since stepped down from his position as parish priest, also saw it as a way to set the record straight.
“I thought, 'this will be good discipline' because if there is anything untoward going on in my life or my parish life, it'll be on record by an independent observer and I'd rather commit my reputation and performance to an independent observer than to one of mine.”
'In Bob We Trust' also looks at the impact of Maguire’s charitable work on the local community throughout his time as parish priest.
“From 1973 until about 1990 when we were known to be a poor parish, we were trying to do a shape shift and to become part of a neighbourhood that was demographically changing shape.
"It wasn't actually changing from one demographic to another, it was melding the public housing population with the aspirational class, it was starting to become mixed housing side by side.”
Nevertheless, thanks to his incomparable wit and some surprising costume changes (on the film poster he appears as a medieval knight), Maguire is the undisputed star of the film – even if he didn't want it that way.
“The value I would place on the film now would be as a training tool, not as a kind of 'let us worship at the shrine of the Reverend Maguire' piece but it tends to be like that because I've turned out to be the main bloody character!”
The Brisbane premiere of ‘In Bob We Trust’ takes place at the Schonell Theatre Nov 21.