This profile was prepared several years ago. Keith has now received his heavenly reward following his death in June 2013.

Death, mourning, grief and sadness may be the order of the day at a funeral - but it takes a special person to make this unwanted occasion a celebration of life.

For 22 years, Friar Keith Keegan has "celebrated" over 800 funerals. Sadly for Keith - due to his poor health - he had to give up this ministry in which he has received great joy and satisfaction.

"It really is with sadness I relinquish this ministry. I have met thousands of people and had wonderful, enriching conversations," Keith said. "For me, the object of this ministry is to show respect for the dead - to endeavour to comfort, console and give hope to mourners, " he said.

As each person is unique, so is each funeral - and lack of faith or a different religion has not stood in the way of Keith respecting the wishes of the deceased. "I have performed funerals for lapsed Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans and Jews. Their families have received great comfort in these services."

 

 

While no funeral is "easy", Keith does admit that the hardest for him have been the ones for babies and young people.

"It is very hard to comfort a family who has lost a young chilld - these are very hard for me emotionally, " he said. "But one must be careful when conducting a funeral for a teenager or young adult. The focus must be on celebrating the young person's life as their peers who attend . For many, this may be their first time at a funeral - it can make them very upset and even depressed."

After 22 years of contemplating the meaning of death and the afterlife, Keith said he can unequivocally divulge one sure fact: "I no longer believe there is heaven, I know there is."

These words, spoken by Keith some years ago, have become true for him. Keith welcomed Sister Death on 8 June 2013 and was farewelled in a funeral service at Mary Immaculate Church, Waverley. Many friends and parishioners attended, some of whom had been present when Keith had celebrated the funeral for one of their family members or loved ones.