Ernie, as he is known, has a long history as a sacristan. He began serving Mass at the Cathedral in the early 1970s, his initial duties including serving at Sister Janet Mead’s Rock Masses. He gradually extended his responsibilities by working with other sacristans until he voluntarily assumed full sacristan duties at Dulwich when Monsignor Robert Aitken became parish priest of the then Dulwich/Burnside Parish.
Many liturgical ceremonies could not have taken place at Dulwich without Ernie’s willing cooperation to set up for and attend Vigil and Sunday morning Masses, as well as funerals, weddings, baptisms and other liturgical ceremonies.
He took full responsibility for ordering all supplies for the Church of St Peter Claver including candles and wine. In addition to normal sacristan duties Ernie always kept watch over any maintenance issues relating to the church premises to ensure the safety of parishioners and was vigilant in following up requests for needed repairs or replacements.
He willingly became a de facto health and safety officer for the community.
Ernie also assisted, until he had to redefine his activities due to declining health, with opening the Church of John the Baptist, Plympton and serving at the 8.30am Sunday Mass before going to St Peter Claver Church for the 11am Mass. Parishioners who wished to connect with Ernie knew that they could find him at the church every Saturday afternoon while he spent time caring for the church and preparing for the weekend Masses.
In 2013, Ernie received the Archbishop’s Award for Parish Life for his exemplary service to his community. Ernie’s wife, Sue, has fully supported him throughout these years of voluntary service. As neither currently enjoys good health, community members wished them both a happy retirement with more time to care for each other and to enjoy their family.
After his final Mass as sacristan, parishioners from the Dulwich/Burnside community of the Adelaide Cathedral Parish gathered in the church hall for light refreshments to recognise his valuable, long-term contribution to their church community and to wish him well in his retirement from sacristan duties.
Ernie’s work is indeed a case of well done good and faithful servant.
Supplied by Julie Dow, on behalf of the Dulwich/Burnside Community of the Adelaide Cathedral Parish.