WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

A Year of the Priest party for Fr Pat

St Bernadette’s Parish, Naenae, put on a warming Year of the Priest celebration for their parish priest, Pat Greally, on a miserable winter’s day in July.
In response, Fr Pat told the story of his priesthood which he likened to riding a tandem bicycle with Jesus. Everything was safe and predictable while he was in the front doing the steering, but whenever Jesus took over, the journey got exciting, wild and a little scary. Jesus would simply smile and say ‘pedal’!
Fr Pat’s first assignment was to the ‘Fletcher Academy’, aka Ss Peter and Paul parish, Lower Hutt, so called because of Monsignor Fletcher’s great reputation for training young priests. The starting of YCW, involvement with the Capistrano Club and the bodgies and widgies of Naenae, hospital chaplaincy, amazing numbers of converts and marriage instructions, chaplaincy to Christian Family Movement groups, adu Sep09Naenaecelebration050.jpg lt education classes, and the arrival of the first Tokelauans, all characterised this posting.
Paraparaumu, the second assignment, while still involving youth and Christian Family Movement groups, earned Fr Pat the nickname of Steptoe and Son.
‘I sold furniture, bobby calves, silage, Lucerne hay and a host of other things to buy a filter for our swimming baths and build a dressing shed. My golf too improved out of sight during that time. We would tee off at 6 am to be back in time for Mass and the day’s work.’
Appointment no 3—a year in Pahiatua while waiting to go as a volunteer to Peru. However, at this point it seems that JESUS TOOK OVER THE STEERING—instead of heading for South America, Fr Pat was asked to go to Polynesia for three years because of the more urgent need there.
Fr Pat dutifully accepted this change of direction, only to find himself as curate at Sacred Heart, Petone. As Fr Pat described his time in Petone it became obvious that Jesus had taken over and that this was perhaps one of the most blessed and fruitful times in his priesthood.
‘It was a real privilege to be involved, with the help of the Assumption Sisters, in the founding of the Hutt Valley Catholic Housing Trust. We started this to help migrants become a settled and secure people helping them buy their homes and learn the skills to maintain them.
‘Our philosophy for this was that, as the church, we must love and welcome the stranger and that the most basic and best love we could show them was to help them find security. At its height the trust owned 10 houses, the parish loaned it another three flats and it rented 20 from the council and landlords.
In each of these homes the tenants paid a small rental, half of which was banked in their name as a deposit to buy their home. The tenants learnt by doing up the houses themselves.
Fr Pat had one more posting to Richmond, Nelson, before his final posting as parish priest in Naenae in 1990. He retired from this role three years ago.
‘I have to say my present position in the church as a Priest in Sacramental Ministry and a member of a pastoral area team is the most satisfying exercise of priesthood I have ever experienced. I am no longer responsible for the toilet rolls or light bulbs in the church and hall. I have so much more time for prayer, reading and preparation of sermons. I can preside at Mass and the sacraments intent on what I am doing without material distractions. But even more than this, is the spirit and fact of collaborative pastoral and spiritual ministry which brings great fulfilment, and promises even more as the church develops its potential.’