In the early hours on the feast of the Little Flower, Father Cyril Thomas Cartwright’s 90-year-long earthly pilgrimage came to an end. Father died at Sacred Heart Home, Brockville, Dunedin, where he had been a resident for only a few months, in the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Father Cartwright was one of the pioneer New Zealand members of the ACCC. A priest of the Dunedin Diocese since his ordination in 1942, Father had been parish priest of Port Chalmers, Palmerston, Tainui, South Dunedin, Mornington and his home town, Oamaru.
Father Cartwright spent time as Chaplain to Cherry Farm mental hospital where he was highly regarded for his diligence and attention to patients. He was an outstanding and very supportive Diocesan Chaplain to the Catholic Women’s League and to Natural Family Planning. In this latter role he was untiring in his commitment to promoting the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life. He also had a lifelong commitment to Citroën cars, even visiting the factory in France!
All his life Father Cartwright was a keen student, taking copious notes at conferences and lectures, and even recently was studying one of the Books of the Old Testament. His loyalty to the Church was evident to all in his dedication to the Magisterium. In this regard he found great solace and support in the ACCC.
At the heart of his priesthood was the Eucharist. In latter years, even as mobility was becoming more difficult, Father would go over to the neighbouring Mercy Convent Chapel each afternoon to offer Holy Mass. His love of the priesthood was also evident in the great pleasure he took in being able to enjoy the company of his brother priests, particularly at the weekly Monday evening gatherings at North Dunedin. He was able to participate right up till the last few months.
Deteriorating health saw Father admitted to hospital. He then moved into the hospital wing of Sacred Heart Home. He had been looking forward to his 90th birthday and was planning a celebration for the priests of the Diocese. A fall resulted in a broken arm and the shock of this obviously affected his health. He died peacefully on 1 October, just short of the 90th birthday he was so looking forward to.
On 4 October a Vigil Mass for Father Cartwright was offered by Vicar General, Msgr Vincent Walker, at St Patrick’s Basilica South Dunedin. His Requiem Mass was offered by Bishop Colin Campbell in Oamaru’s St Patrick’s Basilica on Friday 5 October. He was then buried near his parents at Oamaru cemetery. An only child, Father Cartwright’s brother priests were his family and it was their honour to carry him to his place of rest. After the prayers of burial, the priests chanted the Salve Regina.
St Paul’s words to Timothy, read at the Vigil and the Requiem, are a fitting epitaph for this loyal son of the Church: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)
Requiescat in Pace.