​The late James (Jim) Stynes

Melbourne’s Anglican leader, Archbishop Philip Freier, has urged those who admired the late football champion and charity worker Jim Stynes to use his virtues as a means of growth and challenge by way of tribute to the Irish-Australian, whose State Funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral on 27 March brought the city to a standstill.
Dr Freier, in his introductory remarks at the funeral, said his influence went far wider than those who knew him personally, “but, of course, the public life – and even our public remembrance – should not obscure the fact of the pain of loss in those primary relationships – Jim as a son, a husband, a father and a brother”.
“As a friend and a role model to many, his life and journey… has its own impact on all who (have) stopped and participated in some way today,” Archbishop Freier said.
“This is a time of reflection, a time of tribute, a time of prayer to God, who is the source of all blessings and gifts.
“And there will be some for whom the griefs of past loss will come back to them in a new and fresh way. There will be others who will have a renewed determination to live their lives in a way that counts a bit more, makes a difference.
“We will have many thoughts that come into our mind today in this time of reflection.
“But I want to encourage each and every one of us who hear me speak now to find one thing that it is that you admired in Jim’s life and, as it were, make that the point of growth and challenge for yourself, that that might be in its own way
your lasting tribute to him as you go on and live your life.”
The Archbishop urged the congregation in and beyond St Paul’s to come “with whatever weighs upon your heart in this time of prayer that we make before the source of all blessing and all healing, Jesus Christ Our Lord”.
Dr Freier said the funeral service was in some respects a metaphor for Mr Stynes’ life.
"We know, we have heard, that in addition to those of us who are gathered here in St Paul’s Cathedral this morning, there are many others not far away in Federation Square and then people – we don’t know how many or how distant – following this on the internet or other broadcast media”.
It was a point made, in a different way, by Mr Stynes’ former captain and teammate at the Demons, Mr Garry Lyon, who said: “Big Jimmy would have loved this. He thrived on a big crowd.”
The Acting Dean of Melbourne, the Revd Canon Dr Ray Cleary, picked up on this theme in his welcoming remarks, too, saying that St Paul’s was a place of special significance for many people in the heart of Melbourne.
“On special occasions such as today, St Paul’s Cathedral is a place of unity and pilgrimage,” Dr Cleary said, extending a warm welcome to people participating in the service “across the road in Federation Square (and) to those watching the service at home or at work”.
“On behalf of the Cathedral, we extend our prayers and support and hope at this time to Sam, Matisse, Tiernan and the other family members,” Dr Cleary said.
Mr Paul Currie, co-founder of the Reach Foundation for youth with Mr Stynes, said in his tribute that he had often pondered why such a great man who did so much for others could be so tragically afflicted with cancer.
“As Jim’s physical powers got taken away, his real essence started to reveal itself more and more,” Mr Currie said.
“Just like a monk shaves his head and lets go of physical attachments in order to get closer to his spiritual self, the longer Jim struggled, the more he was stripped back to a place of pure love.
“He was a simple soul who right to the end could not help caring for young people, many of whom he still thought were worse off than him.
“I now believe Jim in some ways was like a prophet and his destiny was to demonstrate how we should all be able to live our lives.
“He was far from perfect but because he embraced those imperfections, his message became more accessible.
“Jim was adamant that his battle with cancer was going to be public because he wanted to draw light on the fact that there are many people struggling with all types of illnesses and their lives are just as important and as noble as his was.”
Mr Stynes, the 1991 Brownlow medallist and Australian Football League record-holder for consecutive games played (244), died on 20 March, almost three years after he was diagnosed with cancer.