Extraordinary coincidence for two men of God in south west Sydney
It was a double celebration for the community of the Holy Spirit in Carnes Hill when both the parish priest and primary school principal celebrated their 25th anniversaries of priestly and religious life respectively.
While racking up that combined service of half a century Father Joseph Le Van Trong has ministered in four parishes, St Peter Chanel and St Joseph’s Berala, All Saints’ Liverpool, St Joseph’s Enfield and now Holy Spirit since 2013.
Meanwhile, Patrician Brother Nicholas Harsas fsp has worked in and been principal of four schools, St Therese’s Primary Sadleir-Miller, Patrician Brothers Fairfield and Our Lady of the Rosary Fairfield, arriving at Holy Spirit only this year.
The men were happy to share the limelight and in a further coincidence, 25 October happened to be the day chosen when students, staff and parishioners gathered for their combined Silver Jubilee Mass followed by a special morning tea.
“I have hopefully helped many children, staff and families in the schools and parishes where I have been in various ways but especially to know and appreciate the presence and love of God,” Brother Nicholas told those gathered.
He said that the years since taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on 2 February 1994 had been full of “many graces and blessings” including the opportunity to live in community with other Patrician Brothers and develop “a regular and life-giving prayer life”.
“The greatest joy and privilege in recent years has been seeing the children I’ve taught grow into wonderful people and to see some of them return with their own children to begin their school journey,” Brother Nicholas said.
He paid tribute to his counterpart Father Trong for being a faithful pastor “totally committed to his parishioners” including the old and the young, who he calls his “little angels”.
He said he thought the coincidence of the silver jubilees coinciding in 2019 was “quite extraordinary”.