Fr Francois – First Year of Priestly Service14 December, 2022
Time flies like a blink of an eye, especially when we find joy in doing what we are doing. It has been a year already since my priestly ordination. A year full of joy and excitement, a year of great learning and personal growth.
The rural atmosphere and a warm welcome from the local community has ensured that I am feeling right at home in my first missionary assignment in Emerald, Queensland.
I was born and raised in Madagascar, was ordained to the priesthood in Melbourne by Reverend Bishop Terry Curtin on 27th of November 2021 and arrived in Emerald Parish in January this year.
Bishop Michael and Fathers Truc, together with the parishioners of Emerald, Springsure, and Blackwater, welcomed me warmly and oriented me straight away into the life and ministry of the parish.
Emerald, Blackwater, and Springsure Parish, where I work, consists of eight churches located in different towns, including Emerald, Springsure, Blackwater, Anakie, Dingo, Duaringa, Woorabinda, and Rolleston.
The distances between churches in the parish means that Fr Truc and I do a lot of driving. We must drive separately in order to say Mass and visit the parishioners in the scattered churches of the parish. We must drive a fair distance between churches. But, for me, driving is not a problem at all. It gives me a joyful experience as I enjoy glancing at the beautiful view of the countryside along the country road.
I have been entranced by the beauty of the local area. I describe Emerald as one of the most beautiful, peaceful, and tranquil towns in the Central Highlands. It is surrounded by the best of Queensland’s countryside, cattle farming, and heritage-listed sites. I’ve already visited some of the nearby sites and the sapphire gem-fields, where I experienced the daily life and activities of some parishioners who live on different properties. It gives me joy to visit them, experience their daily activities with them, to see their thousands of cattle grazing in their farmland and to experience how to feed the calves and muster the livestock.
People are open, friendly, welcoming, and sympathetic towards one another. We share each other’s joys and sorrows.
On top of this, Fr Truc and I are having a healthy community life. We work collaboratively well together and with the lay leaders who help us run the vast parish. In our spare time, we grow different kinds of vegetables in our backyard and so we eat healthy food and fresh vegetables every day.
To sum up, I feel at home living and working in Emerald. So, my first year of priestly service has been joyful. I have learnt a lot during this year, and I will keep learning as I humbly continue serving God’s people. It is my prayer that I will continue to be filled with life, joy and love and to be growing in godliness.
God make me a channel of your peace for the rest of my years, continue to inspire me to inspire your people. Guide me and give me the grace of wisdom, so that I will become a good shepherd as you want me to be.
Fr. Francois d’Assise Andrianihantana, SVD