6 August 2007
Dear Fr Tom
At the clergy luncheon, hosted for you by Archbishop John on 8 June, you told some of us that leaving New Zealand after 45 years was as hard as leaving Ireland for the first time.
I can understand that. It is hard for us to let you go. You are our brother, and you are leaving a home you have helped to build and a family you have served with generosity and faithfulness.
Your first appointment was to my home parish of Dannevirke. In your second year my father died. I was already in the seminary and struggled with the question of whether to carry on towards priesthood or leave and support the family.
You helped me, not so much by what you said but by the joy that showed in your way of living.
You had left your family in Ireland and gifted yourself to us. And you showed that this sacrifice did not diminish delight in your ministry as priest.
It was your joy that helped my own decision, even though you probably never knew it. Others will have their own stories of what they owe to you. Your 45 years with us have been years of great blessing.
With the deepest gratitude we bid you farewell.
Fr James Lyons
The photo shows Fr Lyons on his knees before Bishop Owen Snedden with Fr Tom O’Brien on the bishop’s left and Fr Colin Karalus on the bishop’s right.