Struggle icon Father Paddy Kearney was a giant who epitomised a nonracial future, determined to transform society to usher in a united, caring and compassionate nation, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday. “He will be remembered as a fearless fighter for peace, tolerance and democracy. He made sure that the church in its diverse denominations was firmly on the side of justice for workers, the poor, the oppressed and the downtrodden, supporting their struggles,” Mkhize said in a statement.“He was a kind, quiet and soft spoken person with a warm and generous spirit. He was a dedicated servant of God who demonstrated his love for his people and his country through his selfless service to humanity.”Kearney died in Gateway Hospital in Durban on Friday at the age of 76 after being admitted to hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. He later suffered a heart attack and died with his brother and niece by his bedside.He joined the struggle against apartheid at a young age and participated by fighting the regime through religion.News24 after his death reported that Kearney trained people to set up and effectively run social action groups in the struggle against apartheid in the 1980s, which attracted the attention of the security forces and the Diakonia Council of Churches offices were raided several times.Mkhize said Kearney was was the face of Diakonia, which welcomed all who were pursued by apartheid forces, be they detainees or families whose relatives were persecuted, imprisoned or killed. This placed Diakonia at the centre of our struggle for liberation giving protection and inspiration to our resistance against apartheid,” Mkhize said.“Working with eminent leaders such as Archbishop [Denis] Hurley and other leaders of faith, he contributed in keeping the flame of freedom alight, thus encouraging those who were powerless to fight on while it counseled and supported those who were brutalized and tortured.“Diakonia became a centre for education and a home for campaigns against social ills, the fight against HIV and AIDS, the abuse of women and children as well as against domestic violence.”A memorial mass in his honour would take place at Emmanuel Cathedral in Durban on Saturday at 17:30.