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The death of Adelaide Crows coach Phil
Walsh last month has revealed moments
of great grace and forgiveness despite the
most difficult circumstances surrounding
his shocking and sudden passing.
Adelaide Football Club chaplain Mark
Purser, known as ‘Rev’ at West Lakes
headquarters, has been instrumental in
helping Crows players deal with their
leader’s incomprehensible death on July 3.
The Baptist Church pastor has offered his
own prayers and thoughts to Walsh’s son
Cy, who was charged in connection with
his father’s death.
“We have to reconcile to move forward,”
he told The Southern Cross last month.
“And forgiveness – which is a long process
– has a part to play in that too.”
At Walsh’s Adelaide Oval memorial service
on July 15, Pastor Mark asked – at the
request of Walsh’s wife Meredith – more
than 1000 mourners present to consider
Cy in their own prayers of condolence for
the Walsh family.
“I felt it was important, as hard as it was,
that we recognised Cy; that we didn’t
abandon him regardless of the context of
Phil’s death,” he said.
A week earlier Hindmarsh parish priest
Father Noel Mansfield msc told a private
funeral service for Walsh at Our Lady of
the Sacred Heart Church, in Henley Beach,
that he had been moved by Meredith’s
inclusion of Cy in the Prayers of the
“We get to make a choice of those we
include and exclude,” Fr Noel told the
service. “The family have chosen to
include the name of the son. That quality
of inclusion stood out for me,” he said. “I
am also sure Phil would have wanted it
Walsh was educated at Monivae Catholic
College in Hamilton, Victoria, from 1972 to
1977, during which time Fr Noel was the
college sports master.
Walsh’s father Bill helped the Missionaries
of the Sacred Heart community at
Monivae. Walsh’s sister was parish
assistant at Hamilton.
Prayers were offered for the Walsh family,
Crows players and the football community
at Catholic Church Masses over the
weekend of Walsh’s death. “We especially
pray for the Walsh family in this extremely
difficult time, recognising that they will
need a great deal of support as their pain
and grief goes on,” said Vicar General
Father Philip Marshall.
Pastor Mark moved to Adelaide from
Victoria to head the Clovercrest Baptist
Church and joined the Crows as inaugural
chaplain in 2012. He travelled with the
Crows team to Perth for their first match
after Walsh’s passing as he did a year ago
for the match in Geelong after the sudden
death of senior coach Dean Bailey.
He said his first piece of advice – given to
the players hours after Walsh’s death had
been confirmed – was not be afraid to cry,
to be together and to draw upon the tools
of grief they had developed at the time of
mourning Bailey’s death 16 months ago.
Since that day he’s talked with the players,
walked alongside them in their grief,
kicked the footy with them and prayed for
“I’m really the pastoral arm of the club’s
welfare department,” said Pastor Mark.
“I’m a confidant to the players; I listen; I
can provide advice when needed and I’m
there to support them, particularly in their
life outside the football field,” he said.
“My Christian faith is what drives me to
serve them. I’m not here to peddle my
wares or coerce them in my beliefs, but I
hope what I model they can see and that
some of that rubs off.”
WATCHING OVER HIS FLOCK: Adelaide Football Club chaplain Mark Purser at Crows training on July 16 – a day after Crows
players pictured on the field were among more than 1000 people attending a memorial service for coach Phil Walsh.
Football chaplain building forgiveness
By Rebecca DiGirolamo
Join Australian Catholic University (ACU) and leading Australian Catholic voices
for a panel discussion response to Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’.
Reverend Professor Denis Edwards, ACU
Bishop Peter Comensoli, Broken Bay Diocese
Ms Jacqui Remond, Director, Catholic Earthcare Australia
Mr Paul O’Callaghan, CEO, Caritas Australia
Thursday 6 August, 6pm AEST
Event will be streamed live at youtube.com.au/ACUsocial
Join the conversation #ACUencyclical
For more information or to register visit
unpacking the Pope’s
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