Kathy Hurley 1946 - 2001

kathyKathy Mary Hurley - Melbourne Marriage Funeral and General Celebrant

16th October 1946 – 21st October 2001

Civil celebrants came to Melbourne from interstate and overseas last week (25th October 2001) to farewell one of their own.  Kathy Hurley was one of the pioneers of the civil celebrant movement.

The inappropriateness of her mother’s funeral service in 1978 had upset Kathy enormously and she decided to do something about it.  She studied loss and grief at Gippsland TAFE and became a funeral celebrant working from Ripplebrook in country Victoria.  She was appointed a marriage celebrant soon after.

With a move to Melbourne in 1989, she continued to push the boundaries, always improving standards, not only conducting wedding and funeral services, but later on, milestone celebrations for the broad spectrum of life events.

In 1995, Kathy and fellow celebrant, Lyn Knorr, established Celebrants at Southgate, hiring space in the Stuart Gertsmann Gallery to conduct wedding ceremonies.  Her next venture was Funeral Planning.  She was well ahead of her time as usual.  When it was not possible for couples of faith to marry in their church, Kathy and Fr Gonzales Munoz provided a service to meet their needs.  And she was farewelled with great affection in the chapel she has leased from the Adult Deaf Society for several years.

Together with her partner, mentor, colleague and companion, Dally Messenger, she was one of a small group of celebrants who established the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants in the early 90s to provide a national forum for celebrants to pursue excellence in ceremony. 

The six AFCC sponsored Pallotti Conferences, largely organised by Kathy, changed the face of celebrancy throughout Australia and the world.  

In 1997 Kathy gave up funeral celebrancy, warning other celebrants to be wary of the burnout she suffered, and she took a job with the AFCC.  And it was she who grew the organization.  Kathy served as Vice President of the AFCC and International Secretary of the International Federation of Celebrants.

From the earliest days Kathy was one of the few celebrants who always provided music in ceremonies. Couples would come to her with limited ideas and wanting the classic "short informal". They went away loaded with music and poetry and candles and wine cups and personally created stories and an event no one would ever forget.

She made an incredible contribution to celebrancy over the past decade, not only as a friend and generous mentor to hundreds of celebrants; she was, too, a highly articulate champion of their cause.   Her friendship, initiative, vibrancy and vitality will be sorely missed by the celebrant community.  She is survived by her children Peter and Julia, sister Carolyn, and her partner, Dally Messenger.

This tribute to Kathy Hurley was prepared by her fellow celebrant and friend. Lyn Knorr.  1st November 2001

The Age
November 2001 Photo: Kathy with Lyn Knorr's Bacikathy_baci282
Last modified on Friday, 29 June 2012 20:18