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Dr Francis Macnab

(21 June 1931 – 27 April 2023) 

Emeritus Professor Rev Dr Francis Macnab was an Australian Christian minister. He wasthe executive minister of St Michael’s Uniting Church, a congregation of the Uniting Church in Australia in Collins Street, Melbourne, until December 2016. Prior to that he was Prahran Presbyterian Church from 1961 to 1970. He was a fellow of the Jesus Seminar. He was the founder of The Cairnmillar Institute, a clinical psychological centre, the largest in Australia, which was for some time the largest training body for psychologists and counsellors in the country. He was its Executive Director. He founded and was director of the Australian Foundation for Aftermath Reactions which provides trauma treatment and training. He was a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society. He was made a member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to psychotherapy and religion. 

Frances retired at the age of 85, after 45 years in ministry. At the time, Crosslight (Uniting Church) published an article about his ministry, a ministry which was expansive, generous, courageous and sometimes controversial.

In 2020, Frances published his final book, Ageing Well, with wisdom for those in their senior years.

Frances Macnab finds himself, like many, in a new spiritual, emotional, and psychological territory. It is called older age. Ageing Well is a manual for older age, it explores ideas on how we can live the later part of our lives with more passion and enjoyment by creating joy, managing moods, avoiding stereotypes, working towards better psychological health, training the brain, focusing on emotional intelligence and much more.

Publisher’s blurb for Ageing Well.

Cairnmillar Institute provided this tribute in The Age newspaper on 29th April 2023:

The Chair, Members of Council and Committees, the CEO, all members of staff, together with the alumni and supporters of The Cairnmillar Institute, pay tribute to the life of the founder Emeritus Professor Francis Macnab AM. His contribution to psychology, psychotherapy, theology, education, and the community is known and acknowledged around the world. The Institute honours this remarkable Australian. For his leadership, guidance, inspiration and generosity of spirit, we give thanks. His rich legacy continues. Our sincere condolences to the family.

Cairnmillar Institute, The Age 29th April 2023

Rev Steven Koski (Presbyterian Minister based in Bend, Oregon, USA) has paid tribute to his long time mentor:

Dr. Francis Macnab, my mentor, colleague and friend transitioned from this life to the mystery of something more. Francis introduced me to a spacious faith and influenced my life in more ways than he ever knew.

He hired me 35 years ago. I’m pretty sure when I got off the plane in Melbourne he immediately thought, “What have I done?!” He did give me a credit card and suggested I upgrade my wardrobe.😂 Little did I know at the time that meeting him, being mentored by him and the trust he placed in me would change my life forever.

Someone visited my church who hadn’t stepped foot in a church for over 30 years and carried deep spiritual wounds. She thanked me for not making her check her mind at the door and for welcoming her doubts and questions. She thanked me for articulating a theology she could believe in and introducing her to a God who believed in her. She said she found the service healing and looked forward to constructing a new faith. She thanked me but I said the person to thank is Dr. Francis Macnab whose legacy reaches you through me.

Francis, you awakened our lives with the adventure of color. Your expansive theology played new music to underscore our lives. Your genius opened the door to curiosity and wonder setting our feet in spacious fields. Your innovative spirit pushed down walls. You watered the seeds of hope within us. You encouraged us to hold room in our hearts for the unimaginable.

We will not look for you only in our memories, but we will find your presence beside us when beautiful music echoes eternal notes; when poetry speaks a language for which there is no defense; when flowers splash the world with color in the Spring; and when we find our own Mingary ( healing space ) in the harshness and hostility of this world.

Francis, may you continue to inspire us to enter each day aware of the fragile gift of each breath, to find courage to look for joy hidden under every rock, and to be grateful for those who walk beside us.

May the Sacred Presence you invited us to trust in this life enfold your spirit in the great mystery of more life that lies beyond death.

Rev Steven Koski, a post on his Facebook page