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News from Bundaberg

19 July, 2023

Farewell Norm Whyte

The end of the financial year seemed to be an appropriate date for Norm to retire from the role of Parish Property Officer. On Wednesday, 28th June, those who wished to say goodbye and thanks to Norm came to a farewell morning tea at the parish office.  Norm has been involved in parish life for nearly 40 years when he and his young family arrived in Bundaberg. He has been on school boards, P & F committees, and for most of the time has served on the parish Finance Council.

For the last five years, Norm has been employed as the Parish Property Officer, an invaluable asset to the Parish Team. He has looked after, maintained, and overseen the upkeep and improvements made to the parish’s various buildings and surrounds.  Norm has seen many changes take place in parish life over the years and recalls the unification process of three parishes into the one parish of Bundaberg in 2007 and the sale of Kepnock Grove (now Carinity) in 2010 as two of the major achievements of the Finance Committees of the time. Although retired from an employed position on the Team, Norm will continue to chair the Finance Committee, after he has a well-deserved holiday.

He looks forward to a slower pace of life, time with his family and friends, and travelling to parts of Australia yet to be explored. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Farewell to Joan Smith

Every parish has their local heroes. On Monday, 10th July, the Bundaberg parish farewelled one of its well-known quiet achievers, Mrs Joan Smith, wife of Roy and mother to nine children. The family paid tribute to their mother in a Funeral Mass, led by Fr John Daly and assisted by Fr Terry Stallard.

Joan was a colourful woman, a woman of many talents which she willingly shared with her family, friends and the wider community, as far away as Papua New Guinea. She was a faithful lady, and in the words of Fr John, “a good and hope-filled lady. Joan has experienced the gift of years, 91 of them. Those years have been very full – full of family, of faith, of work, of study, of faithfulness, of life, of love of God and others, of caring with Roy for people in Papua New Guinea, full of goodness.”

In 2012 Joan wrote an account of hers and Roy’s missionary work in PNG, which I share now with you all. It is an inspiration and an example of God’s grace in action. Joan’s good works continued through the work of the Shalom College St Vincent de Paul group.

Joan’s Story

Roy and I both retired at the end of 1997 and wondered what we would do with our time. In 1998 Sr Mary Stallard met up with her brother, Br Vince Stallard, who taught at St Benedict’s Teachers College in Wewak, PNG. Bro Vin needed a librarian to upgrade the library at the college. Sr Mary said: “Our (Shalom) librarian has retired. She will go.” Thanks to Sr Mary our life changed and we discovered PNG.

Our first visit made us realize what Australia, the Lucky Country, meant. The books in the library were cast-offs from Australian libraries some 20 years outdated. Clothes were mostly secondhand or older. Toys were banana leaves rolled up into balls etc. So began our PNG projects and because the people in Bundaberg and the schools have been so generous the project has been successful.

In 2005 we were invited to stop off in Port Moresby on our way home and stay at Don Bosco Technical Institute to meet the street kids. At the time there were an estimated 900 children at risk. These children did not know about Christmas and gifts were unheard of. Once again we learned about the wonderful generosity of the Bundaberg people, especially the parishioners of the Catholic community.

We were donated a lot of material and after calling for sewers, 12 ladies volunteer to sew. In 2011 we had over 200 outfits made and some of these amazing ladies had continued to sew throughout the year ready for our 2012 Christmas donations. A few businesses in Bundaberg have been generous with toys and the tennis clubs have donated numerous tennis balls so the children no longer need to roll banana leaves into balls.

This year (2012) we are sending our pallets to a different organisation as Don Bosco Technical Institute is unable to continue at Christmas time. A new organisation, founded by Fr John Glynn, known as “WeCare – the Foundation for Women and Children at Risk” now receives our support. Br Gerry Buzolic who taught here over 25 years ago and who now teaches at a Teachers College in Port Moresby had recommended this organisation so we were happy to have them help us with the distribution of clothes and toys at their Christmas party on 1st December, 2012.

Once again we thank all the people who have helped us to make life better in PNG. Without your support we could not help these lovely people. God’s grace and blessing to you all.

Joan Smith