GLADSTONE parish said farewell to the last Marist Fathers who served the parish for 118 years at celebrations on November 23 and 24.
Since 1901, there had been a succession of priests who ministered to the people of the city and the outlying towns and communities.
Rockhampton Bishop Michael McCarthy said the presence of the Marist Fathers in the diocese was notable because in the early years of the 1900s life was difficult for the pioneering families and the priests alike.
“The priests travelled the region on horseback, spending many hours in the saddle to reach far-flung parts of the parish,” he said.
“The history of the Church in Gladstone, and indeed the history of the Marist priests, brothers and sisters was a vital part of the history of the city itself.
“Gladstone would indeed be a different place without the Marist presence over so many years.
“Their pastoral work, their administrative talents, their deep spirituality carried on until 2019 has left an indelible imprint on this community, and the diocese
“They will be fondly remembered.”
On Friday morning Bishop McCarthy, many priests of the diocese, representative of the superior general in Rome Fr Ben McKenna, and Marist Brothers provincial Fr Paul Corcoran gathered in the Star of the Sea Church for a concelebrated Thanksgiving Mass for all the priests and religious who have worked in Gladstone.
Also present were many Marist Fathers, Marist Brothers and Marist Sisters as well as many parishioners.
Parish priest Marist Father Kevin Redmond thanked the parishioners for all the support, encouragement and patience they had contributed over the past six years.
About 150 parishioners gathered at the Yaralla Sports Club on Saturday night for the parish dinner.
Many priests who have served in Gladstone in recent years attended, along with their society leaders.
“The atmosphere of the night was experienced as one of love, joy, hospitality and friendliness,” Mercy Sister Beryl Amedee said.
“Speeches were made by the Mayor Matthew Burnett, Bishop Michael McCarthy, (Marist) Fr Anthony Corcoran, Warren Fellowes and Fr Kevin Redmond.”
“Seventy-five priests have served in the Gladstone parish over the 118 years and all of them spoke so affectionately of the parishioners,” Fr Corcoran said.
He thanked the people for all they had been and done for the Marist Fathers, and apologised for any scandal or betrayal they may have witnessed.
Mr Fellowes discussed the parish history and thanked the Marists for their presence, dedication and self-sacrifice in their service over the years.
The evening also featured a slide show of significant moments for many of the priests and parishioners, which was well received.
“The spirit of happiness and joy permeated the atmosphere and an enjoyable night was had by all,” Sr Amedee said.
Fr Andrew Chase, who recently returned from study in Rome, will take up the responsibilities of Gladstone parish priest in January.