GOLDEN PRIEST, WOODEN CHALICE
By Tim Norris, Connor Court, $22.95
Reviewed by Fr T.P. Boland
THIS is a story of a priest, a parish, a tradition and a steady adaptation within that tradition.
Since the priest is Fr Tim Norris and the parish is St Kevin’s, Geebung, it is an action story – a lively story and a unique mixture of instruction and entertainment.
Fr Tim is Irish born, a son of Dromcollogher parish in County Limerick.
We are not so accustomed to such a description as we once were. It is a salutary reminder to our multicultural Australian Church that our roots are largely Irish.
To understand ourselves we must understand where and how the shape of our Church was formed.
The Limerick of Fr Norris’ youth explains much of what we have become.
Another Dromcollogher parishioner was Archbishop James Duhig. He sent Tim as parish priest to “that place with the queer name” in 1959.
Like most new parishes of those years it was a slice of new suburban territory. It had fine people, little money and neither church nor school, nor convent, nor presbytery.
The parish built itself on hard work, team work and a shrewdly working pastor.
When people ask what is the difference between the Church in those years and that of today, much of the answer lies in that experience.
The story is not all material building. Fr Norris, a quick-witted Irishman and a Roman student, preached the parish into existence.
He includes here some of the texts of his sermons/homilies. He has a craftsman’s way with words, but the power is from faith.
Of recent years he has taken to journalism with the help of parishioner Tess Livingstone.
Now Brisbane can, from time to time, read his lively columns on topics where faith and Australian life meet.
With clarity and conviction he puts his distinctive views on capital punishment, New Age, homosexuality, chastity and such subjects.
He has exposed the tawdry cult of St Patrick without faith.
He pulls no punches, but he argues with geniality, not personal venom.
The title of the book, Golden Priest, Wooden Chalice, is no flattery of himself. It was written for his golden anniversary of ordination.
He has in mind, not himself, but the priests of the penal days in Ireland, when chalices were not gold, but the devotion of the priests was.
Fr Tim has survived many tough years himself, but he has recalled them with vitality and humour that is golden. There is not a single dull page in this handsomely produced volume.
This book can be ordered by visiting www.connorcourt.com.au