It was a quintuple celebration at St John the Baptist parish at Bonnyrigg last weekend, with the community farewelling three members of the school’s leadership and the assistant parish priest, and congratulating a parishioner on his investment as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Principal of Freeman Catholic College Ray Wooby oversaw the college’s consistent strong academic success in the HSC over a decade.
Principal of the parish primary school, Tony Lo Cascio, and the assistant principal Anne Blake, will both take on executive leadership coaching positions within Sydney Catholic Schools, while local state member for Fairfield Guy Zangari became a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem this year.
Last but by no means least Assistant Parish Priest Fr Richard Ddumba left the parish this year for a post at All Hallows in Five Dock.
Parish family educator Tina Dunn said that all the senior educators have made a significant contribution to the children and young people of the parish and would be sadly missed. About Fr Richard she said that his good humour and laugh endeared him to all, and that “no question was too silly”.
“Our parishioners will miss him greatly but we know he will be a blessing in his new parish ministry and equally win their hearts as he did ours,” she said.
Parish priest Fr Dominic Dinh said he will miss his energetic assistant for whom nothing is too much trouble.
“He was very engaged with the people of the parish, very approachable, always smiling and we worked well together,” he said.
Parishioner Gelina Poljak said that she and her husband Branko, who renewed their wedding vows in the parish, appreciated Fr Richard’s support of their marriage.
“He’s just a beautiful priest, a true servant of Jesus,” she said.
“We are sad to see him go, but we can appreciate that he is too good just to keep to ourselves.” Religious co-ordinator Geraldine Jansen said she admired the way Fr Richard “fitted in seamlessly and without any fuss in the faith community here”.
The outgoing principal Tony Lo Cascio said the priest had been authentic and caring and “a wonderful model for our children and a genuine companion to the staff and school”.
Fr Richard hails from Uganda and was appointed assistant priest at Bonnyrigg in 2018.
“My time at St John the Baptist Parish was tremendously beneficial in learning how to work amicably with others especially those with a different opinion from mine,” he said.
“At the same time, the community was so embracing that I came to realise how diversity is so enriching.
“Working with Fr Dominic and the school leaders provided me with constructive feedback and encouragement.
“Fr Dominic was more than a brother; he was a mentor and a friend. Likewise, the school leaders were collaborative and availed opportunities for me to shine through my ministry in the schools.”