I arrived at St James Church an hour before Phil Day’s funeral only to find the church already filling up. What an amazing talent the man had for sustaining circles of friendship over decades, and how deeply was he appreciated by generations of students! St James seats 1,000 or more and it was packed, with hundreds standing in the side aisles. Australian of the Year Tim Flannery read the Old Testament Lesson (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-9). The readings and hymns had been chosen by Phil himself, I was told. I saw so many young men who used to be kids I (and Phil) taught… Young men of many ethnicities and faiths whose lives he had touched. Many bore witness to that, such as that anonymous reviewer on RateMyTeachers.com: “5 5 5 Best teacher. Ever.”
Today was a total reminder of what some teachers are and what they give. It is not often one sees this so spectacularly demonstrated as it was today.
Phil was a person of faith too and St James was his church.
This was played on the beautiful St James Church organ during the service:
And what a historical site that church is, designed by convict architect Francis Greenaway, facing his Hyde Park Convict Barracks across Queen’s Square. I found myself seated by the wall plaque for explorer Edmund Kennedy (1818 – 1848).
This too was sung:
I had to leave before the service was over — it was a full High Church Requiem Eucharist — as coaching in Chinatown had to go on.