Last Friday, twelve months after Fr Mark Reynolds was appointed to St Jude’s Parish in Scoresby, parishioners from Surrey Hills Wattle Park were finally able to host a farewell Mass and Supper for him.
Our Holy Redeemer Church was filled with parishioners, representing both the parish and school communities as well as Greythorn Parish where Fr Mark had also ministered, with mass concelebrated by Fathers Frank O’Loughlin, Brendan Reed and Trac Nguyen.
Peter Collery, Chairperson for Surrey Hills Wattle Park Parish expressed his delight at seeing so many gathered together in the church and “the confidence this gives the community as we look to the future”. Father John Salvano was also warmly welcomed to the celebrations and acknowledged for his support over the last twelve months in the neighbouring parishes of Greythorn, Balwyn North and East Kew. Peter Collery addressed the congregation:
“Personally, I am delighted to see our priests come together to concelebrate this Mass, it is a tangible sign of them supporting each other and also making a statement to us that they are here for us. We should feel blessed to have this support. The job you have chosen for life is not an easy one, we are grateful for what you do for our communities.
I believe I speak for all of us when I say to Fr Mark, we loved having you with us as I hope you did with us. You brought Surrey Hills and Wattle Park parishes together, giving us great liturgical ceremonies and wise counsel to the Parish as a whole, and on an individual basis when it was needed. You reached out to our schools, with the morning school masses just one example of your caring for our school communities.
You did not dodge the hard issues but spoke to the community in an open manner. When Mark addressed the abuse issue for example, he was at pains to point out the vast majority of our priests were good men just trying to minister to their communities in a selfless manner and many of them felt betrayed by what had happened.
You encouraged us to think beyond our immediate selves and look to reach out to the wider community and though we may not have gone as far as we would have hoped with this, I expect going forward we will be able to build on this.
You left our Parish in good shape and we were enriched by having you minister to us; we trust your time at Scoresby will be equally enriching.
So finally, Mark, on behalf of our Parishioners I thank you deeply for all that you did for us, I wish you every success for the future.” Father Mark was then presented with a cheque, representing the generous donations people had made to contribute to a farewell gift.
Fr Mark has since reflected on the occasion and sent us his own message:
“It was wonderful to be able to gather and celebrate with so many last Friday evening. Both the celebration of Eucharist and the supper afterwards brought back so many happy memories of three and a half wonderful and enriching years. I am particularly grateful to all those who went to so much trouble in preparing both the liturgy and the supper. We were all nourished by both. Once again I am enormously grateful for your generosity with the gift that was presented to me.
Indeed, generosity is in many ways the word I hold closest when I think about my time with you all. You are all so generous in all you do and that makes for a rich parish community in whatever way it is set up or structured. As I said on Friday at Mass in response to the changes that have been experienced and those that are to come:
‘What is our response as a people of faith? To see, as Jesus tells the apostle Thomas and the others, that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Indeed, the very early Christian community were known as ‘followers of the way.’ And the way of Jesus brings both truth and life. That has been and always will be the core mission of communities of faith irrespective of how they are arranged, organised and structured.’
We wish Father Mark every blessing for his new appointment both at St Jude’s Parish Scoresby and as Episcopal Vicar for Catholic Schools.