One of Sydney’s most vibrant parishes said farewell and thank you to its longstanding parish priest, Fr Paul Monkerud, on 10 April, after 18 years of ministry in the area.
St Charles Borromeo Church, Ryde, part of the merged parish of St Charles Borromeo and Our Lady Queen of Peace Ryde-Gladesville parish, was packed for the occasion, with strong representation from local Catholic schools.
Warm wishes and thanks were clearly in evidence when Fr Paul was presented with farewell gifts of several chasubles and a portable Mass kit.
Despite it being an occasion largely in honour of him, Fr Paul took pleasure in presenting long-term acolyte Mario Flanders with a papal blessing for years of dedicated
Speaking with The Catholic Weekly earlier this month, Fr Paul said that he had gone through something of a grieving process in preparing to leave the parish.
“Certainly, leaving a familiar place and a community of people that I love dearly, that took a bit of coming to terms with,” he said.
“The highlight for me, (over the years) would have to be the number of people that we have involved in the different ministries and groups … people who are clearly enjoying the community and owning the community; people who are finding in their community a real opportunity to experience and express their Catholicism and grow in their faith.”
He said that since 2005, there had hardly been a let up at the parish, with massive renovations to the old church (St Charles), followed by the Building the Education
Revolution funding, which the parish and adjacent school utilised to full effect. The last two years had seen a lot of work on the exterior of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, bringing it ‘up to spec’ with painting and repairs to the lighting.
“At the end of the day, whatever (happens with) building, it’s the people’s faith that matters.”
Fr Paul has been appointed parish priest of All Saints, Liverpool, the parish where he first exercised his priestly ministry. He said he was looking forward to a new challenge at All Saints and that he had already had some ideas that he wanted to pursue.
Fr Paul’s assistant at St Charles, Fr Daniel McCaughan, thanked the priest for his mentoring and his example.
“In the midst of the sadness of the farewell I found myself continually thanking God for having allowed me to be shepherded by Fr Paul in my first ever parish assignment,” Fr Daniel wrote on the parish website.
“Away from his public role at Mass and the celebration of the other sacraments I witnessed a priest who worked tirelessly for the up-building of his parish, to re-connect people with their faith and who displayed a special concern for my own priestly growth through his encouragement of my prayer and in the gentle and clear manner of his corrections.
“In short, I witnessed a priest who was in love with his vocation.”