Last Friday evening parishioners from across Camberwell, Balwyn Deepdene and Surrey Hills Wattle Park, gathered at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Deepdene to celebrate a farewell Mass for Fr Trac. It was a great occasion for our three communities to gather together. Dozens of parishioners assisted with the preparation of the liturgy and the generous hospitality that was experienced by all after the Mass. Thanks to all who were involved in the wonderful celebration. Not everyone was able to be present last Friday, so I have provided the text from Fr Trac’s farewell homily and some images from the evening. On the Parish website you will find the farewell message book for Fr Trac with contributions from people across our parishes.
Fr Trac’s Farewell Homily
As you know, with five different communities and nine Masses on the weekend, we rarely see or come across one another. So, whenever the people see me at their weekend Masses, they always say ‘I thought you have been sacked.’… I often reply with ‘not yet’. But tonight, I am sad to announce that ‘yes, I have officially been sacked.’
I would like to echo these meaningful words from Jesus in tonight’s gospel for this farewell Mass:
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
…. while I am still with them, I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them,
I am not asking you to remove them,
but to protect them always.’
They are such beautiful words from John’s Gospel, taken from Chapter 17, where Jesus prays for his disciples in their mission to the world, and unity is essential to the life of his disciples. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 teaches us that Christian unity is fundamentally a gift from God. This chapter reflects so well on what is happening here tonight, in our very own church, OLGC Deepdene where I said my first Mass after ordination. And in this church, I would like to say my farewell Mass and see the five communities that have gathered in one celebration, one farewell rather than five farewells in five different communities. I do believe tonight’s celebration has fulfilled the dream of Fr Brendan, as the Parish Priest, who always wonders how we can bring everyone together for one celebration. I told him once that I would give him a reason. Here, tonight is a reason. It is a sad but happy occasion that we can see people from different communities gathering in one church to celebrate the Eucharist together. A true Christian unity that Jesus prays for his followers.
As many priests have been saying, even all the priests who gather here this evening, would agree that the first five years of a newly ordained priest’s life is a crucial part on his vocation journey, especially with his first appointment. I have experienced and witnessed how important that statement is. Yes, it is not only important, but it also brings meaning into my life, and I am so grateful that in my first appointment as priest, I have shared that with the community of Camberwell, Balwyn Deepdene and Surrey Hills Wattle Park. Right in this special moment, can I please offer my appreciation and deepest thanks to the parishioners of Our Lady of Victories, Camberwell; everyone at All Hallows, Balwyn; many friends at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Wattle Park; many relatives at Our Holy Redeemer, Surrey Hills and all supporters at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Deepdene. I do feel so much at home whenever I step into each community to say Mass or celebrate the liturgy. Thank you for the support and friendship that you shared with me in the last few years. Also, thank you for giving me a couple of nicknames in different communities such as a Wicked Priest, Fr Shocker, Track and Field, Tram Track … and so many memories…
In December 2018, I went to meet Brendan for the first time at Camberwell Parish. I had to use the GPS on Google maps, because I did not know the Camberwell area at all. At the end of the journey to 548 Burke Road, my phone asked me whether I would like to save this address as Workplace, Office, Favourite Place or Home? I did save 548 Burke Road as Home. Indeed, it had become my home; so that wherever I go, when I click Home on my GPS, it will direct me back to 548 Burke Road or the Presbytery. That place has been home for me … and it is still there in my GPS tonight, I should change it soon. Even though I am not staying there, my heart will always be there … at home.
My heart has not only been at home with 548 Burke Road; but it is also beating with each community in our parishes. It is hard and sad to move on after those years, but this is something that I must face and thank you. To all of you from Camberwell, Balwyn Deepdene and Surrey Hills Wattle Park; your faith, your love and care have taught and guided me for my first few years as a priest. And may Christian unity always inspire us always to stay connected to one community of faith, love, and hope.
“May The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” – Numbers 6:24–26