Fr Bernie prepares for a peaceful retirement
By Matthew Biddle
FR Bernie Hennessy says he has mixed feelings about retiring from active ministry on November 4 after 43 years of serving the Church in parishes and communities.
Having reached the retirement age of 75 in October, Fr Bernie will move from Gundagai to Queanbeyan, where he plans to reside permanently.
“I am in reasonable health and would like to have the opportunity to meet personal goals which have been put on hold whilst involved in busy parishes,” he told Catholic Voice.
“I have mixed feelings about retiring as you are so involved sacramentally and personally in people’s lives, the parish, Archdiocese, wider Church and community. That relationship will be different on retirement. I will miss that, despite compensating factors.”
Parishioners at Jugiong farewelled Fr Bernie with a special morning tea on October 11, while Gundagai parishioners gathered for lunch on October 25 with Fr Bernie after his final Sunday Mass at the parish that morning.
Parish council chairperson Paula Butt and Gobarralong representative Bill Graham paid tribute to Fr Bernie and thanked him for the friendship, dedication and faith he had shared with and demonstrated to parishioners.
“Fr Bernie is a man of strong but gentle character who reaches out to people of all walks of life,” Mrs Butt said.
“His ability to make each and every one of us feel special and included is something he should be very proud of.
“We have been blessed and privileged to have Fr Bernie with us and it is with much gratitude that we thank him for his ministry and friendship which he has brought to our community, from babies right through to the elderly.”
The former parish priest of St Patrick’s in Gundagai said he has many fond memories of his years of active priestly ministry.
“Every encounter brings its own blessings, particularly through the ministry of the sacraments, visiting the sick at home or in hospitals, and encounters with children and teachers at school,” he said.
“I have treasured my association as an army chaplain over 28 years both in full-time and part-time chaplaincy. Also my interest in sport has afforded a wonderful opportunity to connect with so many who often have different affiliations with clergy or church.”
Fr Bernie says after a “good long break” he will be available to assist in parishes.
A new parish priest for St Patrick’s will be appointed in the near future.