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Fr Vince

Fr Vince shares his story...

There is a Chinese saying: “May you live in interesting times” which was not meant to be a blessing. Our own times are “interesting” for sure with all the many changes we see around us; culturally, economically, environmentally and politically. In all of this our church cannot remain vacuum-sealed from the flux and ferment of the times. In the midst of this changing I am well aware that this is a time of considerable change for St Bernard’s parish as you farewell Fr.Peter Foley your P.P. of many years and come to terms with a new P.P.

Let me say first it is an honour and a great challenge to be following in the footsteps of Fr .Peter who has shown such commitment and leadership and particularly has had such a vision for  lay participation and involvement in parish life. I particularly Fr Peter to know that he has a real place of belonging at St Bernard’s and is truly your pastor emeritus. I hope and pray that my own time at St Bernard’s can be life giving and supportive of all the many good things you have created as a parish and that despite all our “interesting” times we will continue to remain strong and confident in the “Good news”.

I come to you with twenty years of priestly ministry behind me. Bear with me as I adjust from
caring for large but sparsely attended country parishes to a parish truly industrial in scale and

My own journey of faith and ministry has been somewhat left of centre and marginal. I come from a small catholic family background moderated by my father’s Anglican origins. Due to his Navy life we lived in various places and after Prep I no longer attended catholic schools. I drifted away from faith practice in my teens and then immersed myself in eastern spiritualty especially bhakti yoga which is part of the complex Hindu religion. I came back to an adult Catholicism in my mid twenties and after various studies commenced training as a psychiatric nurse but did not complete my training. 

Drawn to consider priesthood I entered the seminary and was fortunate to be formed during the Clayton era when the emphasis was more liberal stressing personal responsibility and a pastoral approach that was about meeting people where they are rather than ideologically dictating to them what they should do.

My first appointment was to St Margaret’s parish East Geelong, first with Fr Dick Rafter and then with Fr Michael Nolan. This gives me at least more of an inkling of the nature and traditions of both the deanery and of your St Bernard’s parish. Afterwards I was seven years at St Thomas Mores parish Belgrave in the Dandenong ranges as assistant and parish priest. It was a complex five-centre parish with strong liturgical and small church community traditions.

Then I was state Chaplin and co-ordinator of catholic prison ministry for just over a year. It was a very intense and demanding appointment that has left a lasting impact on my sense of the world. After a short time off and some supply ministry I have been for the almost the last nine years at Sacred Heart Yea and St Mary’s Alexandra and was very involved in the drama and fallout from the Black Saturday fires.

I believe there is much to value, celebrate and nurture in living out a Catholic Christianity. I believe that we should never apologise for belonging to Jesus and his people and that Christian faith is good news.

I look forward to meeting you all and helping to serve and maintain your own sense of parish belonging. Be gentle with me with my dodgy memory as I try to remember names and faces I ask for a little bit of understanding as I cope with current family drama (my mother had a major stroke the very day of my move) and forgive me for barracking for the one and only team no Geelong supporter wants to meet on grand final day.

With love
Fr Vincent.