A wave of sadness has gripped mourners after the sudden passing of the founder and chairperson of the Denis Hurley Centre, Patrick ‘Paddy’ Kearney on Friday, 23 November at the age of 76 after cardiac failure.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, 29 November at the Durban City Hall at 4pm and a funeral according to Catholic rites will be held on Saturday, 1 December at Emmanuel Cathedral.

The Denis Hurley Centre is an oasis of hope for many of Durban’s destitute and homeless with daily hot meals on offer as well as shower and laundry facilities and a myriad of upliftment programs from free counselling and social work to employment opportunities. Director of the Denis Hurley Centre, Raymond Perrier expressed his sadness at Kearney’s passing.

“We mourn the sudden death of our cherished leader and brother, Paddy Kearney,” he said. Born in 1942 in Pietermaritzburg, Kearney who ran the Diakonia Centre under the leadership of the late Archbishop Denis Hurley was a champion of the less fortunate and an outspoken critic of the apartheid regime. Kearney helped to build the Denis Hurley Centre in memory of Archbishop Hurley.

Pope Francis presented a special medal to Kearney several years ago for his humanitarian and peace efforts. The eThekwini Municipality provided Kearney with the eThekwini Living Legend award four years ago. Kearney was reportedly in Johannesburg on Wednesday at the launch of his book on Hurley’s letters when he thought he had pneumonia and was taken to Gateway Hospital where he suffered a heart attack. A 5:30pm mass was held on Saturday, 24 November where a book of condolences was available.