Thursday, April 25, 2024
15.4 C
Sydney

Priest’s eyes still fixed on mission

Most read

Father Reece Beltrame visited the chapel of Servant of God Eileen O’Connor at Coogee to conclude a novena seeking her intercession in his illness. Photo: Supplied
Father Reece Beltrame visited the chapel of Servant of God Eileen O’Connor at Coogee to conclude a novena seeking her intercession in his illness. Photo: Supplied

Catholics beseech Eileen O’Connor, seeking her intercession for pastor

A young priest undergoing treatment for a rare brain cancer says he’s grateful for the prayers of his regional New South Wales diocese where he has ministered for less than 10 years.

Last September Fr Reece Beltrame, 40, was diagnosed with Gliobastoma (GBM), a highly aggressive and recurring cancer which has an average survival time of around 18 months.
Practically overnight his busy ministry as Wagga Wagga’s cathedral parish administrator gave way to a ministry solely of offering up his sufferings for the good of others.

Catholics across his diocese and beyond joined in a novena (nine consecutive days of prayer), ending on 19 February, birthday of Servant of God Eileen O’Connor, asking God to restore his health through her intercession.

- Advertisement -

Fr Reece planned a three-hour trip to Sydney to conclude the novena with Mass at the tomb of the founder of the Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor.

“One of the crosses I have is that I can’t read large amounts … But I’m able to pray devotions, so prayers like the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and meditation are what I pivot on [through the day].”

“I’m doing very little now in terms of public ministry but it’s a very privileged position to offer up one’s sufferings for the salvation of souls; for sinners, for conversions, for vocations, for the Church, for my parishioners and all those people who are praying for me and supporting me in various other ways,” he told The Catholic Weekly.

“One of the crosses I have is that I can’t read large amounts, I can only read a page or half a page. But I’m able to pray devotions, so prayers like the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and meditation are what I pivot on [through the day].”

The novena is the second for Fr Reece. Organised by a group of clergy and laity it was promoted by the diocese.

Father Reece Beltrame holds Rosary beads. Facing serious illness, he finds devotions such as the Rosary especially helpful and has been promoting it to families across the Wagga Diocese. Photo: Supplied
Father Reece Beltrame holds Rosary beads. Facing serious illness, he finds devotions such as the Rosary especially helpful and has been promoting it to families across the Wagga Diocese. Photo: Supplied

His friend Fr Andrew Grace, the parish priest of Sacred Heart Parish in Griffith, said Fr Reece’s diagnosis came as a major shock.

“But despite the heavy cross he’s been given he’s embraced it and is completely open to how God will work through this terrible adversity,” he said.

“Right now, a lot of people are confident that a miracle will happen for him and we hope and pray that’s true.”

“Meanwhile he has a burning passion for evangelisation and he just wants people to pray, he’s especially hoping that families start praying the rosary together.”

“The second violation is that parents aren’t supposed to bury their children, so there’s a potential double violation there. This is very difficult for the people I love.”

Fr Reece spoke of his illness with humour and candour. “You hear of good and holy Catholics not ever complaining, well I’m not like that!” he said.

“This has cut deeply into the mystery of death, that death is a violation of order, that we weren’t made to die. The second violation is that parents aren’t supposed to bury their children, so there’s a potential double violation there. This is very difficult for the people I love.

“But I think the Book of Job answers all these questions for us…and if this is what God’s asking of me who am I to say no?”

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -