By Emilie Ng
DOMINICAN priest Father Joseph Wilson thanked God for giving him 60 years of priestly life on December 15.
Ahead of the celebrations, Fr Wilson spoke with The Catholic Leader on the meaning of thanksgiving and life as a Dominican.
For around 66 years, Fr Wilson has set his heart on following the footsteps and shadows of St Dominic. The 85-year-old priest recently celebrated 60 years as a priest, and 66 years as a member of the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans.
The gentle priest has lived what he called an “itinerant life” living in Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, and Brisbane.
Fr Wilson has spent more than 20 years in three stages doing pastoral work in the Dominican parish at Our Lady of Graces, Carina, with three other Dominicans. There he celebrated his 60 years as a priest, concelebrating Mass with Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Oudeman.
On behalf of the Dominicans, Fr Wilson said, in good humour, that they promised not to fight with the Capuchin bishop. Fr Wilson said he was “overcome” by the attention given to him by the Carina parishioners.
“I like a quiet life and no fuss,” he said. “However, our good parishioners have got together to ensure it would be a memorable day.”
Fr Wilson felt the calling to religious life at the end of primary school, but had no idea where to pursue his vocation. The moment he met a Dominican priest, he knew he was called to the order.
“I knew nothing about the Dominicans, but when I heard him and saw him and was deeply impressed by what he had to say, I said, ‘Oh well, this is the order I’ve been looking for’,” Fr Wilson said. “And so I came to learn about the Dominicans not by reading about them but by experience,” he said.
Reflecting on giving thanks for 60 years as a priest, Fr Wilson said his homily would draw on the highest form of thanksgiving for Catholics, the Eucharist.
“[My homily was] focused on our thanksgiving because Eucharist means thanksgiving,” he said. “In tossing this around as you do on these occasion, what on earth am I going to say, I received confirmation in the psalms of giving thanks to God.
“It’s the expectancy of a loving God that we receive thanks and praise from His people. And this, I thought, was born out very much in the 10 lepers coming across Him, and he sent them off to the priest to make an offering for their cure, and only one of them returned.
“This took Jesus by surprise so I gather that it’s the expectancy of a loving to God to receive thanks from His people. And of course the whole context of the Eucharist is set in giving thanks.
“The priest, taking the bread and giving thanks, acting in the person of Christ, then taking the wine acting in the person of Christ and saying thanks again, before changing those into His Body and Blood, before taking it to His disciples to eat and drink.”
Fr Wilson said his favourite moments as a priest were his pastoral care work in the various parishes over the last six decades.