13/09/1956 – 20/10/2015
The Uniting Church congregations of Bairnsdale, Paynesville and Lindenow are saddened by the death of their former minister, Rev Andrew Donnelly, on October 20 at Bright Hospital following a six year battle with brain tumours.
Andrew was farewelled at a thanksgiving service at Bright Uniting Church on Tuesday October 27, the church overflowing with his family and friends he had made over his lifetime which included so many who travelled over the mountain from East Gippsland.
Andrew was born in Mt Waverley, the fourth of eight children. His family were devout Catholics at Holy Family Catholic Church. He spent his secondary schooling as a boarder at Assumption College in Kilmore. He was the only graduate to become a Uniting Church minister.
Andrew attended Lincoln Institute, studying prosthetics and orthotics. He worked at the Royal Children’s Hospital and spent three years in London and Carlisle working for Cumbria Orthopedics. While there he met and married Joanne.
The couple came back to Australia and were living in Richmond, where they attended the Richmond Uniting Church. Andrew always loved learning and took evening classes at UFT at Ormond College, Melbourne University, studying church history and theology out of personal interest.
This led on to him candidating in 1989.
The year before he was ordained, he did an intern year in Fiji, working with the Indian Fijians in Suva Methodist Church. He and Joanne took their three little girls (aged six, four and two) and returned in December 1993 expecting twins.
Andrew was ordained in 1994 and was Minister of the Word at Benalla Uniting Church from 1995 – 2000. In January 2000 Andrew and his wife Joanne arrived in Bairnsdale with their family of five children.
The family quickly settled into the Bairnsdale community and over the 13 plus years, until they left in April 2013, Andrew was involved in much more than just his very demanding role as Minister at the Mitchell River Uniting Parish.
He was a keen motorbike rider and loved riding his BMW 1000 with local friends and the BMW motorcycle club.
He was involved with the canteens at the Bairnsdale Secondary College senior and junior campuses and attended many school camps while the children were in primary school. Winter Saturdays saw him umpiring football with the East Gippsland Umpires’ Association.
A talented man, he enjoyed many forms of music and was a very proficient guitarist, accompanying singing during worship services. His artistic ability also led him to taking art classes with Jan Long and he also enjoyed calligraphy.
Andrew was chairperson of UnitingCare Gippsland and for a time was a member of the local Rotary Club.
After Bairnsdale, the family spent 18 months in Melbourne. Andy worked half time at Kingsville Aged Care and also did supply ministry in Geelong. His health deteriorated and he took early retirement and moved to the family’s home in Harrietville near Bright. Unfortunately he was only there for 11 months before brain cancer took his life.
Joanne describes Andrew as “an amazing man, funny, smart, compassionate, adventurous, creative and loving – a one of a kind”.
He is greatly missed by many and survived by his wife, Joanne, and children, Laura (husband Nick) Beth, Kate, Alex and Phill, and grandsons Finnian and Joshua.