Recently Palms received the sad news that Br Damian Keane, who for 10 years had volunteered in our office, passed away on Saturday October 10th at Concord Hospital. Damian turned 81 the previous week.
Damian was such a consistent presence at Palms’ office and events that many have fond memories of him and associate his warmth with their experiences of Palms. For 10 years he was present at Palms, contributing a full-time workload for no financial reward.
Damian’s resonant voice at the end of Palms’ phone earned him the nickname “the Voice of Palms”, apt for perhaps more than one reason. Damian loved to use his voice to entertain, educate and engage. Whether regaling his passengers on their way from the airport to an Orientation Course about his time driving for the Sydney Olympics or sharing cultural insights from his 18 years in PNG, usually told in the form of a humorous anecdote, Damian made it his business to put people at ease. Hospitality was obviously a key part of his vocation.
Damian also assisted with a great variety of administrative tasks willingly, professionally and in good humour. A man of great experience and talent, he was not too proud to answer phones, deliver mail, chauffeur passengers, order supplies or compile news clippings for our overseas volunteers. As a proof-reader, Damian was invaluable.
Consider for a second, the amount Damian’s assistance must have saved Palms Australia since 2000. What a generous donation; one which, in turn, made the financial contributions we receive go so much further.
Damian passionately shared his stories of Papua New Guinea and his enthusiasm for the work was infectious – a blessing for a volunteering agency. His devotion to God and others was inspiring and he set a fine example of a religious brother, a Christian and a human being.
“The Voice of Palms” will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.
Damian’s funeral was held at St John of God Hospital, Burwood, on Thursday 15th October and was attended by his family, confreres, friends and colleagues.