31 March 2012
More than 14 years of loving and dedicated service from Fr Eddie Condra to St Mary’s parish Carterton were honoured at a Mass of gratitude and celebration at the end of January.
Nearly 200 parishioners and local friends filled St Mary’s Church for the occasion. Three music groups played lively music including a song especially written for the occasion. A DVD of Eddie’s sailing exploits, set to the music ‘Heart and Soul’ preceded the Mass.
Prayers offered encompassed the core of Eddie’s ministry ‘being led by the Holy Spirit to renew and purify the church, making God and His Son present and in a sense visible.’
A Power Point reflection gave everyone a chance to reflect on a culmination of 14 years of Parish activities.
During his homily, Eddie thanked those who had worked to develop the vision and mission of the journey of ‘Simply Loving’. Special thanks was given to Eddie’s voluntary housekeeper, Di, who had ‘turned the presbytery into a home’.
The Mass was followed by a lunch in the hall which buzzed with memories, laughter, regret and sadness at the departure of this special person.
The following is the thank you speech offered by Parish Chairperson, Chris Connor.
‘You arrived here in Carterton one afternoon in May, more than 14 and a half years ago and, as the song says, ‘Fings ain’t what they used to be’.
Like a cat among pigeons, you scattered a few bodies, ruffled feathers and, in your inimitable way, set about challenging us all to take a deeper and deeper…. and deeper look into our lives.
Through parish picnics, BBQs, setting up pastoral development teams, leading us into the river, retreating around the countryside, transforming bedrooms into prayer rooms, dreaming up Te Puna Tapu Spirituality Centre, teaching us to meditate, even giving us permission not to go to Mass, you have succeeded in empowering us to be priests to each other and given us the freedom to explore our own way of being church, being human and fully alive.
Led by the spirit, you’ve done your best to renew and purify us, Eddie. Mission semi-accomplished, I’d say.
In fact, your time here, Eddie, has been the longest six-month appointment I have ever heard of. As of this year, you win the silver medal for being the second longest serving priest in the 135-year history of St Mary’s Parish (pipped at the post by Fr Vince McGlone, 1943-60).
And so Eddie, after all our exploration, we have arrived where we started, on a new journey. The American author Wendall Berry says, ‘It may be, when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey’.
Thank you for these wonderfully fruitful years, and your willingness to be supportive, friendly, open and even vulnerable at times. So, as you stand before this open door – and it is truly open because we want to see you here again often – we wish you well, we bless the road and oceans that carry you and we cry ‘Anchors aweigh, until we meet once again; here’s wishing you a happy voyage’.
A comment in a card from a parishioner summed up Eddie’s time in the Wairarapa so well.
‘You have left us with a ‘can do’ legacy that is priceless. Carterton is now able to be a model to other parishes seeking change and will be a significant part of the new history of the church – thanks to you.’