I was going to write a different post. However, today I listened to the broadcast of the state funeral for Anthony Foster, and wanted to acknowledge him and his work. I never met him, but I know that our society is better because he was in the world.
Most of you have probably not heard of him, but if you have, you will know that he was a man of incredible courage and dignity.
Anthony and his wife Chrissie had three daughters, Emma, Aimee and Katie. Emma and Katie were repeatedly raped as young children by a paedophile Catholic priest. Both young women were traumatised by the abuse:
Emma Foster suffered from eating disorders, drug addition and self-harm after the abuse, and in 2008 she overdosed on medication and died at the age of 26.
Katie Foster developed problems with alcohol after her experiences, and was left with physical and mental disabilities after being hit by a drunk driver in 1999.
Anthony and Chrissie became tireless fighters for justice for victims of abuse. Their work brought about the formation of a Victorian inquiry into abuse and the federal Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This Royal Commission has uncovered grievous abuse of children in a range of institutions, especially the Catholic Church, where the coverups of paedophile priests seem to go very high up the hierarchy.
The elegies at the funeral spoke of Anthony Foster as a man who not only had the courage to overcome his own trauma and grief to fight for justice, but also gave unstinting support and friendship to abuse survivors in their fight for justice.
As his daughter, Aimee said, “We will be OK because you showed us the way. We will continue to love, laugh and share. We are thoroughly better human beings for having had you in our lives.”
And that goes for all of us.
But there has to be more. As Joanne McCarthy says:
Anthony Foster deserves a state funeral. More than that, his death requires us to honour his memory by demanding governments act on the royal commission’s recommendations.
5 replies on “Farewell to a man of grace and dignity”
Those poor poor girls. How marvellous that the family coped with positive action. You have written a fitting tribute.
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Isn’t it a tragic story? Unfortunately, there are so many wounded people because of child sexual abuse. Anthony Foster was an amazing man.
I didn’t know about Foster so I’m very glad you wrote this to honor him. The Catholic Church has a lot to answer for . . .
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He sounds like an incredible human being – such a tragedy that his life was cut too short but what a legacy he has left behind. Thank you for bringing him to my attention.
Thanks for sharing his story, Anne. The Catholic church covered up these heartbreaking abuses for decades. It takes a lot of courage to do what this man did: stand up to institutions while managing an unbelievable grief and sorrow. We need more like him in our world. Love to you.