Jubilarian Mass celebrates 200 years of Priestly Service

There was much joy at St Kilian’s on 20 July as clergy and parishioners gathered to celebrate and give thanks to four Sandhurst priests for their many years of service in ordained ministry. Bishop Les Tomlinson (50 years), Monsignor Frank Marriott (60 years), Fr Des Welladsen (50 years) and Fr Vin Walsh (50 years).

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Bishop Shane Mackinlay presided at the Mass. He addressed the congregation, “Together, as we remember over two centuries of priestly service, we hear in the Gospel of the Sower going out to sow seeds. Some falling on to weed, some falling on the path, and very much today, we celebrate the seeds that fell on rich soil, growing up to a rich harvest.”  

Bishop Les, in his Homily said, “A Jubilee is a wonderful occasion when we celebrate a life of faith commitment and love of God and His people.”
 
Bishop Les also referred to the Parable of the Sower and the Seed.  “Some scholars consider this parable of the Sower to be at the centre of Jesus’ message. It is the parable of the optimism of the kingdom. Pope Francis, preaching on this text in 2017 said, "Jesus invites us today to look inward: to give thanks for our good ground and to work on the ground not yet good’,” he said. 
 
 BishopLes 350Bishop Les continued: 
“I recall ordination day. It is impossible for us to forget because we were about to become priests ordained to walk in the footsteps of Christ.  Perhaps some went forward with dreams that were never realised, churches that were never built, aspiration that was never satisfied. Nevertheless, in the middle of it all there was a certain sense of being supported by God who helped us do good deeds; some that we remember; others that were remembered by parishioners of the past who touched our lives accidentaly in more recent years and thanked us for deeds we had forgotten."
 
"Like everything in our Christian faith, the priesthood exists, not in the abstract, but in the lives of actual priests. It is made flesh, in men of different personalities, with their gifts and their limitations. We thank God today for the fidelity of all these years of service, which I am sure may not always have been easy for any of us. However, we know that in difficult moments, it has been God’s grace that has sustained us; but we have had to say Yes to that grace. So, today we give thanks for God’s grace and our Yes.”
 
"In recent days I have spent a little time reflecting over these fifty years. Like Frank, and Des, and Vin, I am conscious of so much happiness and joy which I have found and been given. Indeed, we thank God for every moment. 
 
 However, as I get older, time seems to pass so much more quickly; and my sense of joy and happiness is matched by an ever-keener sense of the mystery of life with the burdens and struggles we all bear. My ministry as bishop and pastor is lived in this awareness. 
 
So, my fellow-jubilarians, Frank, Des and Vin, as priests and pastors I know that you too would have listened earnestly during the readings as the psalmist asks God’s blessings for his later years. He does so in full confidence of faith, and he is strengthened in his faith by a long and remarkable experience of God’s providence and deliverance. Today’s psalm finishes with a familiar note for we four: 
 
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wonderous deeds,
And so now, I know you will join with me, as we express our gratitude to everyone celebrating here with us today and we ask: please do, always, keep us in your prayers! "
 
MonsFrank StThereses 350Unfortunately, Monsignor Francis Marriott was unable to attend the Mass as he had tested positive for COVID. On 29 June, on the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul Apostles, he concelebrated Mass at St Therese's Kennington,  to mark the occasion of his 60th Anniversary of Ordination.
 
On 3 July, Monsignor Frank concelebrated the Sung Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, where he had been Administrator from 2008 to 2015. Fr DJ Suguitan congratulated Monsignor Frank on his 60th Jubilee before a large congregation of family and friends and many members of the Bendigo Interfaith Council. 
 
This years’ jubilarian priests have celebrated commemorative Masses in their parishes at a time closer to their individual ordination anniversary and Bishop Les will celebrate a Thanksgiving Mass in late August.