Two hundred and eighty five years of priestly service was celebrated at the Palmerston North diocese Jubilarians’ Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on October 13.

The Mass was presided over by Bishop Charles Drennan with Bishops Peter Cullinane and Owen Dolan and the clergy of the diocese concelebrating.

The six priests whose jubilees were celebrated were Frs Freddie Barte (25 years), David Gledhill, SM (50 years), Desmond Paul Levins (50 years), Thomas Sherry (50 years), Pat Comiskey (50 years) and Don Hamilton, SM (60 years).

Council of Priests chair Fr Marcus Francis said not all jubilarians were able to attend. “Overall, it was a wonderful celebration of ministry and dedication,” he said.

Homilist Fr Thomas Lawn detailed  the priests’ day with a touch of humour.

“These men sometimes met their days with a willingness to get out of bed and get on with their vocation and at other times with a yearning to stay there, hide under the blanket and avoiding the new day,” he said.

“Sometimes they would have gone to prayer with peace and joy in their hearts and other times knowing that the gift of faith was just managing to get them there,” he added.

At a dinner after the Mass, Bishop Dolan made the toast to the jubilarians.

“The six priests whose jubilees we celebrate have made a rich contribution to the faith lives of people in our diocese, in parish, school and marae chaplaincy. Our hope is that reflecting on their priestly lives with us, among us, they can look back and rejoice,” he said.

Bishop Dolan said Pope Francis speaks of the joy of the priesthood.

“Jubilee can be a time to reflect on the joys [and] the hopes that have been part of the journey, [And] the crosses too,” he said.

He wished for them to see all these “as a grace, a gift. May our jubilarians rejoice in their priesthood. This is our wish for them.”

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