Beaudesert prison chaplain remembered for 35 years of service

DEDICATION: Mr McDonald started visiting inmates in 1980 and delayed his retirement to support a prisoner. Photo: Supplied

DEDICATION: Mr McDonald started visiting inmates in 1980 and delayed his retirement to support a prisoner. Photo: Supplied

A Beaudesert man who dedicated himself to supporting prisoners has been remembered as a "man who loved God and loved people".

Arthur McDonald, who served as a volunteer prison chaplain at the Palen Creek Correctional Centre for 35 years, passed away on June 14 at the age of 90.

Mr McDonald was a carpenter by trade and a founding member of Beaudesert Baptist Church, serving as its secretary for more than 50 years.

Pastor Josh Cocks said Mr McDonald played a large role in the life of his local church.

"The influence that Arthur McDonald had at Beaudesert Baptist Church is immeasurable," he said.

"His was a part of the physical and spiritual rebuilding of the church from the 1950's until his passing.

"His work ethic, care for others and desire to glorify God remains his legacy.

"Arthur was church secretary and then elder for more than 60 years.

"We miss him greatly as a church member, but above all as a friend. We give thanks for his impact on our lives and rest in the sure and certain hope that we will see him again.'

As a prison chaplain with Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy, operated by Carinity,Mr McDonald began visiting inmates in 1980 and also organised weekly chapel services and Bible study groups.

"In this time, Arthur hardly missed a week of attendance and continued to attend even as his health deteriorated," Inside Out Prison Chaplaincy coordinator Myles Waldron said.

"He was always adamant that his job is 'just to be faithful, and it was God's job to transform people', and as a result he saw some amazing results. Arthur's passing will be profoundly felt by all he came in contact with."

Carinity said Mr McDonald's dedication was such that in his 80s he delayed his retirement from prison chaplaincy until a prisoner he had supported was released on parole.

Mr McDonald's former prison chaplaincy colleague Jesse Caulfield said he was an incredibly diligent chaplain and "a man of great faithfulness" who "loved God and loved people".

"He had an affinity for the work and the right temperament for the role," Mr Caulfield said.

"Nothing seemed to faze him and his ability to remain level-headed and objective in many situations was remarkable..

"He was incredibly well respected by all fellow chaplains, Correctional Services staff and prisoners alike.

"He had a natural and easy-going character and easily drew people to himself. I think he was so well trusted that he would've been given the keys to the prison if he asked.

"His many years of faithful service leave a standing testament and legacy."

In a 2015, interview Mr McDonald said he found prison to be "a supportive environment to work in".

"I have found being a chaplain you are quite well received in the prison," he said.

"You'd be surprised at the number of times I've heard inmates thank God for coming to prison.

"For me being a prison chaplain has been the greatest blessing - and it's the one place you have a captive audience."

Mr McDonald was named the Senior Citizen of the Year at the 2013 Scenic Rim Regional Council Australia Day Awards.