‘The happiest day of my life’

By Matthew Biddle

FAMILY, friends and parishioners came together to celebrate retired Bishop Pat Power’s Golden Jubilee of ordination to the priesthood last month.

To mark the occasion, Bishop Pat celebrated three Masses in his home parish of St Raphael’s Church in Queanbeyan, on July 17, 18 and 19.

The 73-year-old said there has never been a day since his ordination when he hasn’t thanked God for the gift of priesthood.

“I have never doubted God’s love for me or for the people in my life,” he said during his homily on July 19.

“I have had a few bad days over the past 50 years, but not many, and I have never regretted the decision to become a priest and remain within its ranks.”

In memory of his ordination on July 17, 1965, Bishop Pat wore his original ordination vestments for the Golden Jubilee Masses. He said the day of his ordination was the happiest day of his life.

“It was the pastoral role of the priest which sparked my vocation even as a very young lad,” he said.

“I could see that as a priest I would have the opportunity to bring God’s love to the people I would be called to serve.

“These days, I often say that a true call to the ordained priesthood demands three basic qualities – that the candidate be a normal, well-grounded human being, with a pastoral heart and a genuine relationship with the Lord.

“There will be other qualities as well required for an effective ministry, but they need to be built on those three solid foundation stones.”

The first Queanbeyan local to be ordained a priest, and the first native born Bishop of the Archdiocese, Bishop Pat paid tribute to the priests and religious who have served the Queanbeyan region with distinction in recent times.

“One of my most joyful experiences as a Bishop was eight years ago ordaining to the priesthood another native son of Queanbeyan, Tom Renshaw,” Bishop Pat said.

“I feel no shame when I hear Queanbeyan referred to as ‘Struggletown’ because I believe that nickname says so much about the character of this great community.”

Bishop Pat said he has been “thoroughly blessed” in his 50 years as a priest, and has always felt at home advancing the cause of the marginalised.

“To be taken into people’s homes, their hearts and their confidences is a very precious place to be,” he said.

“I always say that ministry is a two-way street and that I have learnt so much from the good people I have been privileged to serve.”

One of the highlights of the weekend for Bishop Pat was baptising his grand-niece, Evelyn, on July 18, the youngest of his 46 grand-nieces and nephews.

Monsignor John Woods, who, with Fr Hilton Roberts, concelebrated the July 19 Mass, described Bishop Pat as “a man of the people”.

“Bishop Pat Power has lived the call of his baptism and the call of ordained priesthood, and we are all surely better for it,” he said.

“On behalf of all the priests of the Archdiocese… I say to Bishop Pat, thank you for who you are and how you have lived your ministry. You have been an inspiration to all of us.”

Born in Cooma in 1942, Bishop Pat grew up in Queanbeyan and attended St Christopher’s Primary School and St Edmund’s College.

Twenty-one years after his ordination to the priesthood, he was consecrated as an Auxiliary Bishop on April 18, 1986. He retired on June 30, 2012 aged 70.