The Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Adolfo Nicolás, has appointed Fr Brian McCoy to succeed Fr Steve Curtin as Provincial Superior of the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus.
In making this appointment Fr Nicolás extended his thanks and encouragement to Fr McCoy as he prepares to assume this very important service to the universal Society, and to his Jesuit brethren and to the many lay colleagues in the Australian Province and its ministries. Fr Nicolás added a special note of thanks and appreciation to Fr Curtin for his six years of dedicated service as Provincial. Fr Nicolás said that he would pray that the concluding months of Fr Curtin’s term would be filled with much grace and consolation from the Lord.
Fr Brian McCoy grew up in Melbourne and began his education with the Loreto Sisters at Mandeville Hall. He then moved to the Marist Brothers at Canterbury and then to the Jesuits at Burke Hall and then Xavier College. Brian entered the Society of Jesus in 1966, was ordained a priest in 1977 and took final vows in 1986. He has spent most of his priestly and Jesuit life in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and North Queensland.
In 1973, as a Jesuit scholastic, Brian went to the Balgo Mission in Western Australia and in 1979, after ordination, he went to Townsville. He undertook tertianship in 1984, and was based on Palm Island in 1985. After studying missiology at Regis College (Toronto) in 1986, Brian went to the Mirrilingki Spiritual Centre at Warmun in the Kimberley in 1987. In 1989 he was a research officer with the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. He then worked in the Northern Territory on Bathurst & Melville Islands and at Daly River, before returning in 1992 to the Kutjungka parish south of Halls Creek in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. There he became immersed in church, sporting and cultural issues with the people of the four desert communities. This included a decade of involvement with St John Ambulance and the State Emergency Service.
In 2000 Brian returned to Melbourne and further studies. While living at Newman College, he completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne that focused on the health of Aboriginal men. This was later published as Holding Men: Kanyirninpa and the health of Aboriginal men. Brian has also been awarded a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma in Criminology from the University of Melbourne, a Bachelor of Theology from the Melbourne College of Divinity, and a Graduate Certificate in Health (Community Mental Health) from Flinders University. Brian holds Honorary Senior Researcher positions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at The University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, James Cook University and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research. Brian’s research interests include culturally appropriate health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, the role of traditionalist healers (maparn), the impact of mission dormitories on generational trauma and the health implications of petrol sniffing, music, sport, education and imprisonment.
Between 2001 and 2012 Brian authored or co-authored more than sixty publications and presented or co-presented at more than thirty conferences in Australia and overseas. He has held two National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Scholarships and been a mentor in three NHMRC funded capacity projects for Indigenous researchers. From 2006 until 2009 he was a Postdoctoral Researcher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research at La Trobe University (ARCSHS). In 2010 he was the Visiting Scholar in Native American Studies at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
In 2011-12 Brian was employed as a Senior Research Fellow in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at La Trobe University and with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Alice Springs. In 2013 he took up his current role as Director of the Tertianship program for the Australian Jesuit Province while remaining Assistant to the Jesuit Provincial for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries. He has been a Board Member of Jesuit Social Services since 2007 and was on the inaugural Redfern Jarjum College Council. He is a Member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA). He is currently a Consultor to the Australian Jesuit Provincial.
Brian is a leader with long experience as a Jesuit Superior and Head of Ministry. Those who have had the benefit of working with him know him best as a humble and loving colleague and friend, a committed pastor, a wise counselor and a man of faith and prayer with a great love for the Church and for the poor. In announcing this appointment and conveying to Fr McCoy the thanks of Fr Nicolás, Fr Curtin said that he wished to add his thanks and the thanks of the whole Australian Jesuit Province. Fr Curtin also assured Fr McCoy of the care and support of the whole Province in the years ahead.
Fr McCoy will assume office as Provincial at the end of July after the conclusion of the 2014 Tertianship program.