Ordination as Priest

Nearly a year after their Ordination as Deacons, and with all the experience that year has brought, Frederik and Gemma were Ordained as Priests by the Bishop on the Feast of St Clement of Rome, 23rd November 2021.

These two newly Ordained priests will continue to minister in the Cathedral Parish of Griffith under the gentle guidance of the Dean, the Very Rev’d Thomas Leslie. Their joy at being called to this ministry was easy to see, and many of the Cathedral community were present to support them at this momentous occasion.

Sadly, due to distance and the ongoing COVID regulations, members of their immediate families were not able to be present. However, the Ordination was livestreamed so they were still able to participate in this special day.

Immediately after the Ordination these two new Priests individually prayed God’s blessing on clergy and lay people who knelt in front of them. Speaking about her Ordination, the Rev’d Gemma said “It is such a joy to be living your religion every day and be in such community with others.”

The Rev’ds Gemma and Frederik Le Mesurier gathered with the Clergy of the Diocese following their Ordination as Priests

Each of the new priests presided at their first Eucharist, the Rev’d Gemma on Wednesday evening and Fr Frederik on Friday morning. Speaking about that experience Fr Frederik said “It was so lovely being able to give out our first communion and be able to give blessing to our congregation.” A good number of the Clergy of the Diocese gathered to assist in the Ordination as the College of Priests shared with the Bishop in the Laying-on-of-Hands.

Following the Service a supper was arranged in the Hall and congratulations were given to Fr Frederik and Rev’d Gemma by Kay Mitchell on behalf of the Parish and the Venerable Wayne Sheean on behalf of the clergy. They are excited to be staying in Griffith for at least another year and looking forward to all that priestly ministry will bring.

Hay, Heaven & Booligal....

The Reverend Canon Neale Sommersby has heard all the jokes about ‘Hay, Hell and Booligal’, his soon-to-be new parish in the far west of Riverina Diocese.

“I’m planning to change it to ‘Hay, Heaven and Booligal’,” Fr Neale said with his customary humour as he prepares to move to Hay to begin his new ministry in February/March 2022.

Bishop Donald Kirk has appointed Fr Neale as Priest-InCharge of the newly created Parish of Balranald and the Cobb Highway Ministry Area, a vast area which includes the towns of Balranald, Oxley, Hay, Booligal and Ivanhoe and the communities in between.

“It feels like half of NSW!” Fr Neale said. “It’s a big move for me as I’ve been in ministry in Barham for the past five years and I’m sad to leave my Church family and home in Barham. “It’s taken a lot of trust, faith and hope in God to believe He knows the plans He has for me; the wisdom to discern them and watch those plans unfold and bear fruit in many ways.” Fr Neale’s new tenure has been made possible by funding and support from the Society of the Sacred Mission (SSM), an Anglican religious order founded in 1893, originally to train novices for missionary service in Korea. The Australian Province is based at St John’s Priory in Adelaide.

Last year the Society approached Bishop Donald as they were looking for a way to fulfil their apostolate to provide priestly ministry in rural Australia. “It really was a gift from God,” Bishop Donald said. “When I became Bishop of Riverina in 2019 it quickly became apparent to me there was an area in the geographical centre of the Diocese that was not being given the ministry it needed.

“There was an arrangement whereby the priest from Deniliquin would travel the 125kms to Hay each month to provide a service but not much else. Balranald had not had a priest visit in a very long time and Booligal and Ivanhoe had not seen any ministry in years,” Bishop Donald said.

The Society of the Sacred Mission has covenanted to provide the stipend for Fr Neale to serve this area of the Diocese for the next three years. This is the first time the SSM has sponsored a priest in the Diocese of Riverina, a geographical region which covers almost a third of NSW. St Paul’s Anglican Church in Hay which was the original ProCathedral of the Diocese of Riverina was sold by the Diocese last year. Although Hay was the original seat of the first Bishop of Riverina, the Right Rev’d Sydney Linton who built Bishop’s Lodge Historic House in 1888, the parish has not had a resident priest for 12 years. Since St Paul’s Church and the adjoining parish hall were sold, monthly services have been held in the Hay Uniting Church.

“It’s important to note that we, the Anglican Church, are grateful for the generous cooperation and support of the Uniting Church who have allowed us to worship in their church. The ecumenical cooperation is a sign of what I believe is a positive future direction for the Christian Church especially in rural areas. We ask God’s blessing on this new ministry and on Fr Neale as he moves to Hay,” Bishop Donald said.

Riverina Diocese has purchased a house in Hay into which Fr Neale will move in February before his Induction on 23rd February at the Uniting Church in Hay.

Fr Neale’s sister, Tracey who has supported his ministry in Barham will also move with him to Hay along with their four beloved dogs, Pandora, Romeo, Merlot and Shark.

“Tracey is like my co-pastor. She will travel with me to the remote communities and she is particularly gifted as a pastoral carer and support person for women,” Fr Neale said.

“We are both looking forward to living in Hay while travelling many kilometres to bring the love, strength and encouragement of the Gospel message of God to many people over the next three years.” Fr Neale believes the Church should be open to welcome all people, regardless of their race, gender, background or diversity (Matthew 11:28-30). This outlook has seen Fr Neale become a much-loved member of the community and parish at Barham where with the support and dedication of the church family he has developed a church and community choir; men’s and women’s breakfasts; a Yomove Youth Group and the successful opening of an Anglican Op Shop.

As a trained musician and former piano teacher, Fr Neale is hoping to form some choirs in the Hay and district community. “Choirs are a great communitybuilding exercise – singing brings people together and it’s fun. I call it ‘soft service evangelism’ ,” Fr Neale said.

“People in rural and remote communities have a continual need for encouragement because of their isolation. They also want and need to be fed spiritually. They are like a dry or parched field waiting to be turned into a harvest.”

Fr Neale plans to conduct services in Balranald and Oxley on the first Sunday of each month; in Booligal on the second Sunday of the month; at St Stephen’s, Ivanhoe on the third Sunday and in Hay every fourth Sunday. If there is a fifth Sunday of the month, Fr Neale is also hoping to conduct a service at the Bishop’s Lodge Chapel in Hay.

New Hall in Barham

After the terrible fire that claimed St Luke’s Church Wakool, the Parish of Barham decided to build a new Hall connected to St John’s Church using the Insurance payment from Wakool and other funds raised within the Parish. The new contruction will be known as ‘St Luke’s Hall’ in memory of the Church that was in Wakool. Here are a collection of photos of the progress of construction.

Bishop Donald breaking the ground for the new Hall with the builder

Foundations are laid

Construction moves quickly

Cladding the sides

Brickwork on the front wall of the Hall

Bricks matching the Church nicely

The original windows from St John’s have been moved and used in the new Hall. The archways between the Church and Hall have been opened.

It is anticipated that St Luke’s Hall will be completed by early in the new year and that it might be Dedicated sometime in February. It will be a wonderful facility for the community of Barham.

Bishop's Christmas Message

I was walking down the main street of Griffith the other day noticing the way in which the various businesses were seeking to make the most out of Christmas. As I did so, I heard the Christmas Carols and songs that were being piped up and down the street as the City Council’s contribution to the festive season.

There was one song that struck me which I had not heard in a long time. It was Freddie Mercury singing his Christmas song. As part of the lyrics, we heard him sing:

“Thank God it’s Christmas Can it be Christmas?
Let it be Christmas Every day”

We all know that Christmas is celebrated once a year, but what is it that we celebrate at Christmas? God’s love for humanity is supremely revealed in the birth of a child to an ordinary human mother who had shown great faith and trust in God when she said yes to the Angel Gabriel. The Blessed Virgin Mary bore Jesus, the Son of God, into the world. He was God Incarnate, ‘God-with-us’, who had come to redeem humanity.

While we may celebrate this event once a year the truth is that through Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, God is with us every day. Freddie was on to something! God’s loving presence is with us always; Jesus’ presence through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us strengthens and guides our lives always and not just one day a year. Celebrating Christmas is celebrating that truth. May you have a happy and blessed celebration this Christmastide!

+Donald Riverina

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