Parishioners of St Aloysius of Gonzaga church in Cronulla turned out in force to officially welcome their new parish priest, Father James McCarthy, on 23 August.
Bishop Richard Umbers presided over the solemn installation Mass and gave Fr James some pieces of advice on serving his flock.
“As leader you have to be ‘omnia omnibus‘, ‘all things to all people”, in the parish,” he said, and encouraged the new parish priest to “listen to the dissenting voices”. “Information that doesn’t fit the plan is important to know,” he added.
He also advised the 37-year-old priest to make space for the advice of women, who “bring their own particular genius to the needs of a parish”. “They see and hear things that would never have occurred to you and that are very important,” he said.
The bishop urged Fr James to bring much “discernment, prayer and pondering” to decision-making and above all to have a deep concern for the welfare of all the people in his parish. “Be the shepherd who carries the sheep on his shoulders, a good shepherd,” he said.
Message from the PM
Prime minister and federal member for Cook, Scott Morrison, a former Cronulla resident, sent a warm message of support for the community’s eighth parish priest.
“Fr McCarthy is no stranger to the parish, having served as deacon and having participated in the parish’s preparations for the Sydney World Youth Day,” Mr Morrison said. “He brings a youthful outlook to the parish. That seems appropriate, as the namesake of the parish St Aloysius was a young man and is now the patron saint of young Christians.
“Fr McCarthy has an eclectic interest in sport from American Football to cricket. His lifelong support of the Bulldogs will have to change, but I will leave that to the parish to resolve!
“I send my prayers and best wishes to the parish of St Aloysius and I wish Fr McCarthy every success as he seeks to guide this wonderful local community of faith.”
Fr James, who also received official welcomes from the local indigenous community and local civic leaders, renewed his priestly vows at the Mass.
He said he was overjoyed to be returning to Cronulla and is looking forward to working alongside the parish’s team of lay leaders “to worship the Lord, to share the good news with joy and to build a civilisation of love through outreach to those most in need”.
“I ask you all to interact with me with genuineness and gentleness and to help me to be the best person I am called to be, and I will help you to be best person you are meant to be,” he said.
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