A recent dinner at St Mary’s Hamilton provided the ideal occasion for 100 parish members to welcome in the new and farewell the not so old.

Fr John Corrigan was introduced to the St Mary’s parish earlier this year and is a young newly ordained priest, eager to commence his life of ministry at Hamilton, where he has acknowledged being overwhelmed by the warmth of his first church community.

The  newly designed St Mary’s website was launched at the dinner by Bishop Peter Connors of the Ballarat Diocese, with the young Fr John’s technical knowledge and ability to build on the site being another welcomed feature of his introductory placement.

With the recent suppression of the Parish of Penshurst, MC John Hockey ensured the dinner was an ideal social opportunity to welcome the St Joseph’s community back to St Mary’s Parish.  In 1907 the Bishop of the time transferred the community of St. Joseph’s out of Hamilton parish as it was then situated, along with two other neighbouring churches from their respective parishes, to create the new Parish of Penshurst.  All three have now been transferred back to their original communities, where it is thought they have the closest geographic and social relationship.  Sunday Masses will continue on alternate Sundays at Penshurst and a team of dedicated members otherwise ensuring a continuance of faith, expressed through Lay led Assemblies.

Other occasions highlighted at the parish dinner were the imminent retirements of Bishop Peter Connors and Mrs Marie Cook the St Mary’s Parish Secretary spanning over 20 years.  Bishop Peter’s response included a humorous reflection of the 15 years spent throughout the Ballarat Diocese and the privilege of sharing countless memorable events with parish communities during his 50 years since realising his dream for the priesthood.  A retirement date and replacement Bishop is yet to be announced.

Parishioner Ted Oliver spoke of Marie Cook’s outstanding qualities and her ability to devote time and welcome all who attended the Parish Office, regardless of need.  Her spiritual strength and personal commitment devoted as Parish Secretary was recognized and Marie will fondly be remembered with gratitude by many parishioners.  During presentations Parish Priest Fr Pat Mugavin added that Marie selflessly undertook countless tasks over the years that were not within her assigned role.

Fr Andrew Hayes of Casterton once again shared his love of music and wit and captivated the audience with a flawless rendition of Australian poetry.  Fr Andrew’s many talents are well known throughout his own demanding ministry of service to nine churches in four parish communities across Western Victoria.