Saying ‘Thank you and Farewell’

Today is officially the day when both my appointments to the Parish Community of Caroline Springs as parish deacon and pastoral associate end. Tomorrow, I am officially the parish deacon of the Catholic Parish of Melton. Last Sunday, 27 December, during the 9:00 am Mass, I delivered the following speech:

A couple of weeks ago Father Richard mentioned when introducing Father Simeon to this parish community, the importance of the first parish to ordained clergy. Speaking from personal experience I can indeed say how fortunate and blessed I am to have St Catherine of Siena Caroline Springs as my first parish.

Six years ago, I was ordained to the ministry of the diaconate by Archbishop Denis Hart at the St Patrick’s Cathedral with two other Filipino men. Our families, communities, a Filipino choir and our brother deacons and priests came to witness and bless our ordination.

Fr John (third from the lest) during my ordination in 2014.

My first mentor and friend, Fr Minh Tran SJ, came to vest me, and in one of his early demonstrations of support for me our first parish priest, Fr John Tollan, also came on that day. It was my first encounters with our parish priest now, Fr Richard, who was then the Master of Ceremonies (we actually met before for the rehearsal), and Tien who was a sacristan, at the Cathedral, who served during that ordination Mass. It was a day of many firsts, and indeed a foreshadowing of things to come. But even before the ordination, Fr John actually initiated our first meeting. He was the one who first called and to inform me that I’ll be going to Caroline Springs. He invited me for a meeting at the presbytery, welcoming me to this parish. Not long after offering me employment, with the question, “Would you like to work for the parish?”

I will forever be grateful to Fr John for this, and for supporting me in my role as deacon not just during the Masses, and other church activities, but also in other ways and circumstance. I remember during one of the clergy meetings, when two of my deacon brothers were acknowledged by the vicar general for their attendance, Fr John’s voice boomed loud from somewhere in the room, saying loudly, “Deacon Chris Creo is also here!” Receiving such visible public support, I felt proud to be his deacon and committed to serving him, even developing a liking for Chelsea, even though I am usually cautious with dogs, having been bitten by one when I was young.

Fr John with the family

The foundation Fr John set for me as a deacon for this parish paved the way for six years of continuous service. I have loved getting to know you, develop friendships, and provide for and moreover receive your care. My family have truly been blessed with your companionship and friendship through the years.

We’ve had a few changing of the guards through the years, and our parish priests have all enriched our life here at the parish. Personally, I consider myself fortunate to have served each and every one of them. Serving under different styles leadership has provided me with an enriching experience and contributed to my spiritual and pastoral growth as a deacon just as meeting and working with different people in the parish also influenced and contributed to that same growth.

I feel more confident through this experience as I humbly accept my next appointment and serve my next parish priest at the Catholic Parish of Melton. God must have listened when I told him that this transition would be difficult, so he didn’t bring me far to another similarly named parish. At Melton, whose main church is called St Catherine of Siena too, I hope to apply what I have learned here and continue the vision of “setting the world ablaze.”

RCIA Rite of Election 2017.

Friends, there is nothing more for me to say except thank you. Thank you, Father Richard, for our shared love for liturgy. I’ve learned much during the three years I have assisted you in Mass and other liturgies. Thank you, Margaret (our sacristan), for your motherly care. My kids and I will surely miss the prawn crackers.

Thank you to the RCIA team—Ronald, Anie, Maureen, Sheeba & Jorge for the support. Thank you, Robert, for the companionship as a colleague and as a friend. I will miss our conversations amid office busyness. Thank you to the people who at times lend their ears and understanding whenever I needed them. I will not mention you by name but you know who you are.

Lastly, thank you, St Catherine of Siena Caroline Springs, for allowing me to serve you as your deacon!