Early in 2000, Nick's doctor diagnosed a kidney growth. The verdict was that the kidney would have to be removed as well.

Nick had the operation in early March, expecting a week's recovery time in hospital, then about a month in Perth followed by some months of light activity home in Broome. 

This was not to be. Heart and lung difficulties meant he spent several days in intensive care. Some time after nine am on Tuesday March 21, the Brothers and family were told he had very little time to live, but were not able to reach his hospital bed in time. He died with a member of his family with him.

His sudden and unexpected passing brought the Kimberley to a sudden halt as many realised the extent of their loss and how privileged they had been for between the one and thirty years they had experienced and been touched by his life, enthusiasm and generosity.

Br Rosary and a Funeral Mass were celebrated at the Clontarf Chapel for the Edmund Rice Family and Nick's Family in Perth. His body was then flown to Broome for Funeral celebrations and burial in Broome.

The Broome vigil rosary was recited in the Nulungu Chapel, which Nick had designed to suit the Aboriginal and Broome culture he so respected. 

The Bishop of Broome, Christopher Saunders, was main celebrant for the funeral mass held in the Cathedral in Broome.
The wish Nick expressed to me on several occasions to be buried in the Kimberley was granted. His body now rests in the Broome Cemetery in the plot of the Sisters of St. John of God. The circle has now been completed as it was the Sisters who welcomed and provided so much to Nick and the other Christian Brothers on their arrival in Broome to begin Nulungu College in 1971. The Bishop of Broome, Bishop Christopher Saunders wrote the following in the Kimberley Community Profile: "That he was a man of extremely generous spirit is undeniable. But he was also a quiet achiever of boundless energy, whose dedication was both firm and unobtrusive. He simply set about to do his best for others whenever he could. What struck anyone who met him was his faith and firm belief in God and people... Thank you Nick, for letting your light shine so that we can see the face of Christ a little more clearly now." 

Lord we thank you for the humbleness of Br. Nick Bilich and his Edmund Rice calling. He shared his life with many as Educator, Craftsman, Artist, Friend & Mentor. May he rest in peace. (Prayer composed by John Jacky - past student of Nick).

Brother Nick's good humour, thoughtfulness, spirituality, companionship and hard work will now be a strong and worthy memory to a life so generously spent. 

The Pigram brothers had requested to play a song at Nick's funeral. To complete the burial service they sang one of their songs "The Kids of Yesterday", as a memory of Nick's influence at Nulungu College in their younger years. "We should be on our way, to the place we used to play. We're the kids of yesterday".

The final fitting image is Nick's Painting called "Waiting". The pearling lugger is laid up waiting for the storms of the cyclone season to pass, waiting to begin again the search for pearl. 


Vigil in Nulungu Chapel

The Vigil Service in the Nulungu Chapel whose design was inspired by Nick

Requiem Mass The water blessing at the beginning of the Funeral Mass in Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral
At the grave

Nick's grave in the Sisters of St John of God plot in the Broome Cemetery
Beached Pearling Lugger

"Waiting", one of Nick's watercolour paintings