Marist Sisters Beverley Lewis and Maureen Crick represented the Unit of Australia at the farewell to the Marist Fathers in Gladstone. After 118 years of faithful service to the people of the Parish, the Fathers will leave Gladstone on 4th January 2020. It was a celebration of sorrow and joy.
On Friday 22nd November the Parish Community gathered to celebrate the Eucharist with representatives from the Rockhampton Diocesan Clergy, including Bishop Michael McCarthy and the previous Bishop, Brian Heenan, Marist Fathers, including Father Ben McKenna SM from the General House in Rome, Brothers, Sisters, Missionary Sisters and Sisters of Mercy. There was great excitement as old friends were reunited at this joyful celebration of thanksgiving. After Mass, the Clergy and Religious gathered at the Bowling Club for a dinner hosted by Bishop Michael on behalf of the Diocese. It was a wonderful opportunity to mingle with the many religious who had ministered in Gladstone over a number of years.
On Saturday evening, a farewell dinner was held at the Yaralla Sports Club. About 150 people attended the dinner. Mr Peter Turich was the MC for evening. Mr Matt Burnett, the Mayor, welcomed everyone and apologised that he was unable to stay. After the entrée, Bishop Michael thanked the Marist Fathers for their service to the Parish and remarked on the wonderful spirit of co-operation the Marists had with the Diocese. Father Tony Corcoran SM responded on behalf of the Fathers. Following the main course Warren Fellowes, who lived all of his life in Gladstone, spoke on behalf of the parishioners. He paid tribute to the Priests of the Parish who were always ready to listen to the advice of the local people. We then stood to sing the Hail Queen Heaven with adapted words for the occasion, after which all the Marist Fathers present went forward to cut the cake. The cutting of the cake and tea and coffee ended the formalities for the evening, giving people time to renew friendships. During the evening we were entertained with an ongoing slide show and many photos around the walls of Marist Fathers dating back 118 years.
Sunday morning marked the final day of celebration. Mass was con-celebrated with the Bishop at Chanel College in the Marian Centre. In the opening procession symbols of the all the areas of the Parish were presented – Star of the Sea Church in town, Tannum Sands, Calliope, Mt. Larcom, Ubobo, Miriam Vale and Agnes Waters. Father Peter McMurrich preached the homily which included much of the history of the Gladstone parish. At the conclusion of Mass, Mrs Judy Aitkenhead, on behalf of the parishioners, thanked the Marist Fathers for their service to the parish. We then proceeded to La Valla Court for morning tea and to catch up with many more people.
Bev and Maureen were grateful to be able to take part in these wonderful celebrations.