TONY Abbott has paid tribute to his life-long mentor Father Emmet Costello, who has died at the age of 89.
Father Costello, described by the Prime Minister as one of the most important male influences on his life, died yesterday at a Sydney nursing home, where he had been living since 2008, the Australian Jesuits announced.
“I have lost a mentor and a friend, but so have the hundreds, no thousands, of young and now not-so-young pupils and ex-pupils whom Emmet has befriended, taught, counselled and inspired over the last 60 years,” Mr Abbott said in a statement.
“I guess all of us became his extended family. We will miss him, but his spirit will live on in the hearts of all who loved him.”
Speaking to The Australian last month, Father Costello cautioned Mr Abbott not to be ashamed of his faith and to be guided by the lessons of history, particularly regarding the Catholic Church, as he prepared to lead the country.
“I always impressed upon him the importance of history, because it speaks the greatest truth,” Father Costello said. “Men in power think they have it all figured out but it's just a projection really, they think they can't learn from the past but they're wrong.”
The pair met when Mr Abbott attended St Ignatius College Riverview in Sydney, where Father Costello was a teacher from 1969-1975 and again from 1988-1992.
They had kept in regular contact.
“He visits me quite regularly but politics is a very busy thing,” Father Costello said.
Mr Abbott said of Father Costello last month: “Apart from my dad, he has probably had more influence on my life than anyone else. With me, as with so many, he always urged: put no limits on what you can do.”
A funeral will be held for Father Costello in Sydney next Monday.