This was according to Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay on Thursday.
Pillay was speaking before Kearney’s memorial service held by the province at the Durban City Hall.
“He united religious leaders, he united people in a powerful way. Paddy united people in good times and in terrible times when there was violence in KZN. He was still uniting people post-apartheid when he sat on the commissions for social cohesion after the xenophobic attacks in the country,” he said.
Kearney, 76, the biographer of Hurley and former director of the Diakonia Council of Churches, died from a heart attack last Friday.
Yesterday’s memorial service was led by Anglican Bishop Rubin Phillip, who said he met Kearney while he was in the Black Consciousness Movement with Steve Biko.
“It was Good Friday back then and we had decided to march in silence after church, through the streets of Durban against the injustice of the apartheid regime.
“I recall walking next to Paddy during the protest and some people living in the high-rise buildings spat at us. One also threw an empty can at us,” he said.
Phillip said Kearney was at the forefront of the Struggle for peace and the liberation of the poor in South Africa, and especially in Durban.
“My relationship with Paddy began when he was the chair of the dependants’ conference where we supported the families of those held on Robben Island.
“We worked together then. He was a true servant who did not seek attention or praise; all he wanted to do was to be of service,” he said.
In the book of messages of condolence, Kearney’s brother, Professor Brian Kearney, said his boundless energy and extraordinary motivation drove him to find ways to help people.
It is expected that Kearney’s body will arrive at the Diakonia Centre this afternoon, where prayers would be held every half-hour for five hours by different faiths.
His funeral service would be held at the Emmanuel Cathedral on Friday.