The Gospel is the agenda for well-known former St Mary’s Cathedral priest Fr Danai Penollar in his new ministry as parish priest of Our Lady of Fatima, Caringbah.
The former archdiocesan master of ceremonies was installed as parish priest of the southern Sydney parish on 26 April.
“My concern is really proclaiming the Good News of the Lord,” he told The Catholic Weekly this week.
“I ask people to pray for me because the reality is there is work to be done.
“The archbishop, in his homily, alluded to the fact that 10 per cent [of the population] are church-going so there is work to be done. How do you bring people to the practise of the faith?”
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP presided over the installation ceremony, which was attended by archdiocesan priests, parishioners, and Fr Danai’s family and friends.
“Excitement isn’t the word,” said the priest.
“I was excited as well, don’t get me wrong, but I was very touched that the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to serve the people of God.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to do God’s work in this area.”
It will be a change of scenery for the priest, who was born in Thailand to Filipino parents before migrating to Australia at the age of nine.
He was ordained in 2007 and went on to serve as master of ceremonies under former Archbishop of Sydney, George Cardinal Pell, then Archbishop Fisher.
“The reality of priesthood is that you go where you are sent, and I understood that right from the beginning,” he said.
“I was very happy when I was asked to look after Caringbah.”
Fr Danai said his reception was “extremely positive”.
“I’ve been welcomed from so many people,” he said.
He succeeds Mons Kerry Bayada, who retired in February after 30 years in the parish.
“I am very grateful to the work of Mons Bayada, his commitment to the parish for 30 years.”
Fr Danai also thanked Fr Silvio Yong-kook Woo, who served as parish administrator in the interim.