By Brian Johnston
Father William ‘Bill’ Malone was a chaplain to the Catholic Deaf in Sydney for 34 years from 1946 to 1979. He was much loved by the Deaf community for his religious care of the adult deaf.
Fr Malone was born William Clair Malone in Melbourne, Victoria on 12 April 1915, son of a doctor, William Clair Malone and Isabella ‘Belle’. He had one brother, Desmond and one sister, Noreen (Sacred Heart nun). When Fr Malone was a baby, his father took his family to England as he pursued special studies in Public Health in London and Dublin for two years before
sailing back to Melbourne in 1917.
The family moved to Sydney in the 1920s. He was schooled at St Joseph’s College, Hunter’s Hill till 1932. He was ordained a priest at St Mary’s Cathedral in 1938. He had worked at Concord (1938), Hurstville (1944), Naremburn (1947), Broadway (1951), Elizabeth Bay (1954), Broadway (1955), Waterloo (1956) and Beverly Hills (1965). Fr Malone had been with Regina Coeli Church, Beverly Hills for 31 years before he retired to St John Vianny Villa, Randwick in 1996.
In 1946 Cardinal Gilroy appointed Fr Malone a part time chaplain to the Catholic Deaf in Sydney Archdiocese and he spent one year at St Gabriel’s School for Deaf Boys, Castle Hill that year. He had his own horse called ‘Prince’ which he rode around St Gabriel’s.
His stay with St Gabriel’s boys enabled him to acquire a practical knowledge of the special needs of the deaf as he developed a fluency in the finger spelling and sign language.
In 1966 the Pope allowed Fr Malone to use the sign language in the Mass for the first time. This unique ceremony in the crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral was televised for national viewing
on Ephpheta Sunday in 1966. Fr Malone retired from the deaf ministry in 1979. Fr Malone died on 10 December 2000 at the age of 85 years and was buried in a family grave at South Head Cemetery, Vaucluse.
Sources: Findmypast.com databases, ‘Catholic Press’ newspapers, ‘Memories of St Gabriel’s School’ book and Regina Coeli Church website.