RIP Ray Scott - CAFCA member and former committee member Ray Scott

Ray Scott, who died at the weekend, aged 79, was a CAFCA committee member from 1998-2002 and in that period played a full part in the whole spectrum of CAFCA activities. Ray had a great sense of humour, that innate Irish wit, which made him good fun at meetings and mailouts, etc.

We only ever knew Ray in a wholly secular context but he had previously been a Catholic priest for decades. He was part of that great wave of men who quit the priesthood and got married. By the time he joined us the marriage had ended. We knew him as a superannuitant (he joined CAFCA in his late 60s) who was very active in the Alliance.

Ray came from a Temuka farming family and went from home into the seminary, going on to become a parish priest in various parishes and also a teacher, including in one of the most remote corners of the Marlborough Sounds. He lived most of his life in Canterbury, specifically Christchurch, although as a married man in the early 90s, he also lived in Whangarei.

Ray was actually the second current or former priest to serve on the CAFCA committee (first time around we used to hold meetings in the presbytery, complete with a housekeeper who made us supper. Every time I watch “Father Ted” I remember that). Ray was on the committee at the same time as the late Reg Duder, who was a devout Anglican of the same vintage, so they made a couple of hard case old bookends to the rest of us heathens.

Ray never gave up Catholicism and was very active for years in the Christchurch Catholic Worker movement, running a weekly Scripture discussion group called Ray’s Ramblings. And after he left us he did something very unusual among those who had quit the priesthood – he went back to it, in his 70s. He concluded that the Church was his family and home. His last parish was in Napier, but he was brought back to Christchurch to die (of cancer).

His memorial meeting was held today in my neighbourhood Catholic church (the first time I’ve ever been to anything there, in my 27 years of living in Addington). Speaker after speaker spoke of his great spirituality; of his poetry (he’s the only person who’s ever written me a poem for my birthday); of his active commitment to social justice; of his love of life and specifically of golf and rugby (he died on the stroke of the Eden Park fulltime siren on Saturday night, having seen the Crusaders safely through to the Super 14 semi-finals).

And several speakers, including family members, spoke of his truly heroic snoring. One Catholic Worker activist brought the house down when he reported how he cured Ray of that, at least temporarily. Condemned to sharing a room with Ray overnight, he got out of bed, kissed Ray goodnight smack on the lips and had a sound night’s sleep, while Ray stayed awake all night. If only I’d known of that handy tip before I spent two sleepless nights with Ray when we went to Blackball for May Day 2000!

See you later Ray (but only if you’re right and I’m wrong),

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