Tuesday, 01 November 2022 23:01

Fr Vin Walsh: A Local Product

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Father Vin Walsh celebrated his 50th Jubilee on 20 May this year.  Greg Walsh shares a reflection which Fr Vin wrote for the Easter 2020 edition of Parish Talk, the Wodonga Parish newsletter.  As you will read, Fr Vin suggests he is a vessel for God’s work, a local working in the vineyard of our Lord.

I was born in Rutherglen and attended a State School for 12 months before going to Rutherglen Convent School, three miles away. I left school in 1949 and commenced work at the Rutherglen Post Office and attended a Postal Training School in Melbourne in 1952. I did national service training in 1953. I worked in various post offices in north-east Victoria for the next ten years. The longest stints were in Bonegilla Migrant Camp and Wodonga.

It was in Wodonga that I was confronted seriously with religion. Prior to that, I had attended Mass, but that was about it. One night in a Wodonga hotel, a couple of fellows I knew asked me to attend the mission being conducted in St. Augustine’s, Wodonga. I wasn’t all that interested. However, they persisted so, to get them off my back, I went along one night. What the missioner had to say started me thinking about life in general – not specifically in religious terms. I was 27 years old having a great time – plenty of dances, parties and so on. It was quite a comfortable lifestyle, but where was I going? Somehow the great truth that life is not a rehearsal – one only gets one shot at it – became my predominant thought. Later on, an idea started to gel in my mind. Why not give religious life a go!

Initially I rejected it. However, after talking to the late Monsignor Tom Awburn (the parish priest), I decided to follow it up. At this time, I was transferred to the Carlton Post Office, which was providential because it enabled me to take on a couple of matriculation subjects – as they were called in those days – to see if I could study again. After 13 years of only studying the form for the racetrack, it wasn’t exactly easy. I successfully got through those subjects and, after a couple of disappointments, I joined the Carmelite novitiate in Sydney in 1966, returned to Melbourne in 1967 and was ordained in Rutherglen on 20th May, 1972 by Bishop Bernard Stewart.

My first appointment was as Assistant Priest at the Cavendish Road parish in Coorparoo (Brisbane). Four years later, in 1976, I was appointed Parish Priest at Wentworthville, in Sydney’s western suburbs. In January 1983, I was appointed to Middle Park (Melbourne) as Parish Priest. As my time in Middle Park was coming to an end, I realised I had become a little nostalgic for country living, still being a country boy at heart. I went to Bendigo in May 1989, and after supplying at Pyramid Hill, was offered a position at St Kilian’s over Christmas of that year and remained there for thirteen years.

Since I returned to the north-east, I have continued to do supply weekends in various parishes in the Diocese.  One big advantage was to be able to spend more time with my mother who had been a widow for 53 years. My mother died on 12 October 2006. On 12 October 2007, I won a $50,000 motor car in a raffle ─ once a mother, always a mother.

My life in the priesthood on a personal level has brought me great satisfaction, with many highlights. Probably the greatest satisfaction comes from when people accept me, not specifically for who I am, but for what I am and what I represent. So, in truth, I suppose I am a piece of raw material, picked up at the Carriers Arms Hotel bar in Wodonga. The end product is what you see and hear.

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