Bishop Emeritus, Hilton Forrest Deakin AM DD died peacefully on Wednesday, 28 September 2022 at Justin Villa, Balwyn after several months of ill health. He was aged 89 years.
Born in the Northern Victorian town of Seymour on 13 November 1932 to Arthur and Ruby (neé Ricardo), Hilton was educated at St Joseph’s, Finley (NSW), St Mary’s, Thornbury and Parade College, East Melbourne.
He entered Corpus Christi College (then in Werribee) in 1951, and was ordained to the Priesthood by Archbishop Justin Simonds on 27 July 1958. Appointments were many – Moonee Ponds (1959) St Patrick’s Cathedral (1963), Box Hill (1963) Glen Iris (1969) and Mount Eliza (1979 – Parish Priest to this newly established Parish).
In 1987, Fr Deakin was appointed Vicar General. On 30 December 1992, he was named as a Bishop for Melbourne (Titular Bishop of Mortlach) and was ordained on 3 March 1993 and appointed an Auxiliary, serving under three Archbishops.
His ministry to the Archdiocese of Melbourne was broad and rich and included appointments to the Pastoral Leadership Board, Personnel Advisory Board, College of Consultors, the Diocesan Finance Council, Chair of Catholic Capital Grants, Chair of Mannix College Council, Priests’ Retirement Fund, and ex-officio Member of the Council of Priests. Bishop Deakin was also appointed as Episcopal Vicar for Migrants and Refugees. He held a great love and interest in Church music and the special work of the St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir.
With a focus on the just provision for under-privileged people, Bishop Deakin ministered for more than 30 years to people who suffered economic, spiritual and cultural deprivation.
During the 1970s he obtained a BA (Hons) from Monash University and completed a PhD in Anthropology (Monash) in 1977. These years of study and research, particularly into Aboriginal matters, led to international projects and roles including that of President of Caritas Oceania and Vice President of Caritas Internationalis. He was involved heavily in the affairs of East Timor and the support of the Timorese people at many levels and did extensive work for the 40th Eucharistic Congress.
Bishop Deakin was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 along with the Centenary Federation Medal. He retired on his 75th birthday in 2007 and was appointed Bishop Emeritus. In 2008 he celebrated his Golden Jubilee receiving a congratulatory message from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and further celebrated his Diamond Jubilee in 2019. He was held in deep admiration for the many gifts he so generously shared throughout his long and dedicated service to God’s people.
As customary, please offer three Masses for the repose of his soul. May he rest in gentle peace.