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Fond farewells for Fr Roderick


An Adelaide priest who “walked the talk” as he served in parishes and supported the Chinese Catholic Community for more than 40 years has retired.

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Archbishop Patrick O’Regan announced last month that Fr Roderick O’Brien would be retiring from the role of parish priest at Lefevre and Deacon Tim Grauel has been appointed pastoral director with assistance from the priest moderator, Fr Dean Marin, who is Vicar General.

At a farewell for Fr Roderick on May 18, parish chair Gael Little said he had made a remarkable contribution to many parishes and people over 44 years as a priest.

She said parishioners from Sacred Heart Church at Semaphore, Our Lady of the Visitation Church at Taperoo and the West Lakes Church were asked what they highly valued about Fr Roderick.

“They loved his caring nature at all times, but especially at funerals and in times of stress,” Gael said.

Fr Roderick with parishioner Tom Watts at his farewell. Picture: Fourteen 92 Productions

Fr Roderick with parishioner Tom Watts at his farewell. Picture: Fourteen 92 Productions

“He was always there, he always listened to people and they felt that they were being listened to; people felt that they could come and talk to him about almost anything; compassionate, always understanding; a very committed priest to his parishioners, to the parish, to the wider church, to the Mass and to disadvantaged people.”

Lefevre parishioners described Fr Roderick as always welcoming and approachable, walking around the parish to visit youth and families and even delivering ‘welcome packs’ to homes in new housing developments. “He walked the talk,” they said.

“His homilies always related to us and our life and to the news happening around us – he always left us with a message to take home and think about. He made the Gospel come alive because he related it to our citizens and our youth.”

Known for his “wonderful sense of humour” and joke-telling, parishioner feedback on this was “50/50 – some very funny and some not quite so funny”!

The parish community presented Fr Roderick with a retirement cake, farewell cards, messages and gifts.

The Chinese Catholic Community, which he helped establish in 1981, also celebrated his retirement with at Sunday Mass on May 7.

Addressing the congregation, the community’s coordinator Louisa Au said the Chinese community was filled with a “deep sense of gratitude and admiration”.

“Your unwavering commitment, compassion, and wisdom have been the guiding light for our community throughout the decades,” she said.

“Your selfless devotion to serving the spiritual needs of each member, regardless of background or circumstance, has touched the lives of countless individuals and families.

“Without you and other senior community members setting up this Chinese Catholic Community, we wouldn’t be here today celebrating Chinese Mass. For that we are sincerely grateful.

“As you embark on this new chapter of your life in retirement, we want to express our heartfelt thanks for your tireless dedication and sacrifice. Your legacy will continue to inspire us for generations to come.”

Fr Roderick served in the parishes of Morphett Vale, Naracoorte and Albert Park before leaving Australia to teach in China for seven years with the Columbans. When he returned to Adelaide he was appointed parish priest at Salisbury where he served for 16 years before moving to Lefevre parish.

A feature of his ministry in recent times has been a popular faith formation program involving presentations on a wide range of issues and topics at the Sacred Heart Church meeting rooms.



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