Fr Mick McKinnon and Fr James Kerr are moving on from Mildura. Fr Mick says a few words at Mass on Sunday, May 31 and Fr Pat Flanagan offers a tribute to both Fr Mick and Fr James.
Fr Mick and Fr James offer words of goodbye:
Message from Fr Mick:
This is the longest I have been in a Parish and the longest I’ve stayed in any one place since I left home in 1975. So the memories of Sunraysia and the Northern Mallee will be a part of me for the rest of my life I’m sure.
I have lived with a number of other priests here as well, more than I’ve lived with in any other Parish. I am grateful to them, especially Fr James who has shared ministry with me for the past three and a half years. His companionship and his parish contribution are greatly appreciated. I will always be most grateful to Fr Pat Flanagan who is outlasting all of us. Pat has been supportive as well as inspirational – his dedicated service to parishioners has been so valuable over my time here. I thank the Sisters of Mercy and Denise Cusack for their wonderful example of selfless commitment and their support. We are indeed fortunate to have them with us. The Sisters of Charity, although technically a part of the Parish across the border, have also been a valuable presence for us.
The schools and their staff have been a special part of my life here as well and have made my experience as Parish Priest so rich. It is a wonderful privilege to be able to be a part of the formation of children and young people. Carmel Russo, Margaret McDonald and Gwen Hill have each played special roles for us as priests – each in their own way have been of invaluable assistance to us.
There have been so many great people involved in parish groups and committees. Each of you has managed to make life not only purposeful, but so enjoyable as well. I have loved celebrating liturgies throughout Sunraysia and the Northern Mallee. It takes a lot of people to enable those gatherings to be life-filled and prayerful and it is all done so well in this part of the world.
Thank you all most especially for your kindness. I will remember my time here as one of sunshine and laughter, even though I have shared some very sad times with families as well. May God continue to bless you all and I pray that Fr Matthew’s ministry among you will be blessed and fruitful.
Message from Fr James:
I am very thankful for the time I have had here in Sunraysia. The weather is definitely warm and the welcome has matched it. There are so many who deserve thanks. I will start with Fr Mick. He has been terrific to live and work with, and I have learnt a lot. I have greatly appreciated our relationship. I am also thankful for the many other relationships formed within the parish. Thanks to Margaret in the presbytery and Carmel in the office for their dedication and hard work, as well as to all those who have helped Carmel from time to time. We are also lucky to have such a strong ongoing presence of Religious in our Mercy Sisters, Rosemary, Patricia, Helen and Carmel, who all still share in active and important ministries, as well as Sr Denise Cusack and the Missionaries of Charity. Thanks also to Fr Pat for his friendship.
I am also thankful for all our volunteers and wider parish community for their support, for our sacristans, cleaners and gardening team, for our special Ministers of Communion and those who visit the sick and housebound, for our bereavement team, for our musicians, singers and readers, for our SVDP and KSC groups, for our RCIA and sacramental teams, for Robert and his terrific work in streaming our Masses during lock down, and of course our Parish Councils and Finance Committees.
I have also greatly appreciated the welcome I have received in our schools, so many thanks to our principals and their leadership teams, as well as to all the staff and families.
Finally, there are two particular features of life here in Sunraysia that have struck me. Firstly, the rich culture of Feast Days shared by the many different groups within our parish. Thankfully, I will still be able to enjoy Swan Hill’s Fiesta into the future, but I will be sure to miss our many Feast days here in Sunraysia. Many thanks are due to the respective organising committees and volunteers who put in so much work each year, as well as too all the different cultural groups within our region who bring such richness to our parish life. Secondly, the terrific hospitality of so many. My thanks to all those families and individuals who have welcomed Fr Mick and myself into your homes for coffee or a meal. Thanks too for all those who have dropped us off specially prepared meals and cakes, vegies (and mushrooms) and homemade salami, olives, wine, sauces and preserves. Thanks to all of you for your kindness and support, all of you contribute in your own way to making ours such welcoming Church communities.
I will miss you all but thankfully I won’t be too far away. I am sure to see you again into the future, and if you are ever passing through Swan Hill drop in and say g’day.
PS. Thanks finally for all those who have reached out to us and dropped off cards and gifts over these last few days. Your generosity has really blown us away.