It is with regret that we inform you of the death on the 24th day of September, 2022 in Atawhai Assisi Care Home & Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand, aged 84, of
Father Michael Anselm Aherne
Mill Hill Missionary
May he rest in peace
Michael Anselm Aherne was born on the 21st of April, 1938 in Curra, Ballinaclashet, Co.Cork in Ireland. His parents were Michael Aherne and Margaret Aherne, nee Ross. Together they had six sons and two daughters. Anselm, as we knew him in Mill Hill was Baptised shortly after birth, and went on to receive his First Holy Communion and Confirmation in his local parish in Curra.
At a young age Anselm felt called to the priesthood, particularly the foreign missionary priesthood. He consequently fulfilled his Secondary Education in the Mill Hill Missionary College based in Freshford from 1951 to 1957. Further convinced of his vocation, Anselm was promoted to study Philosophy and associated subjects at our Missionary College in Roosendaal in The Netherlands from 1957 to 1959. Having successfully completed his Philosophical studies, he was promoted to study Theology and associated subjects at Saint Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, from 1959 to 1963. As his preparatory studies for priesthood drew to an end Anselm took the Perpetual Oath to God as a Mill Hill Missionary in the College Chapel on the 2nd of May, 1962. Just over a year later on the 7th of July, 1963 Anselm was ordained a Mill Hill Missionary Priest in the Chapel of Saint Joseph’s College, London.
Immediately after his priestly ordination, Anselm was appointed to work in Jesselton, now Kota Kinabalu, in Malaysia. He worked there until 1970, due to visa/work permit government restrictions. Not at all dissuaded from his “Missionary” work, he accepted an appointment in New Zealand. So, in December of 1970 he took up his appointment to parish work in Auckland. Within a decade of working in various parishes in Auckland, Anselm transferred to Hamilton Diocese specifically to work with the indigenous Maori peoples. Such specific work was called the “Maori Apostolate”. Anselm was very much part of the Dioceses in which he worked, and part of the Mill Hill Missionary community in New Zealand. Evidence of this was that in January 1996 he was elected Society Representative for the Mill Hill Community in New Zealand. This was an appointment to which he was re-elected in 1999. In the year 2000, he represented the Mill Hillers working in New Zealand and Australia at the General Chapter. In April of 2005 he was elected a Consultor to the Society Representative in New Zealand, an appointment to which he was re-elected three times in 2008, 2010 and 2013. Sadly, during his term of office, in January 2008, he celebrated the official closing Mass of Mill Hill at St. Michael’s Parish in Rotorua, New Zealand; the Mill Hill “Mission” in New Zealand had been fulfilled.
Anselm continued to work in Hamilton Diocese well into the 21st Century. A General Councillor on visitation to our Members in New Zealand in recent years said of Anselm, “He is a good judge of character and his sound advice is highly valued. His short daily comments after the Gospel at Mass are gems of practical spirituality.” Anselm’s commitment to his missionary work in New Zealand stretched to 52 years! In recent years Anselm needed residential care. It was within the Care Home Hospital where he lived that he died just before midnight, New Zealand time on the 24th. His funeral Rites will take place on Thursday the 29th of September in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Hamilton, and be led by Anselm’s friend, Bishop Steve Lowe, former Bishop of Hamilton, now Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.