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News from Mackay

18 September, 2023

Our dinner club met on Monday 21st August a week earlier than usual to enable us to have Bishop Michael be our guest speaker. Ladies were also invited on this night. Peter welcomed everyone and called a minute of silence for Father Pat Mooney who had passed away.

Reflection: Kevin Casey spoke about Fr Pat’s impact on our region. Born in 1944 in Bundaberg Fr Pat served in various areas in the Diocese, helping priests, and volunteering to meet the needs of the church. He had baptised Kevin’s granddaughter. His long sermons got shorter but always gave congregations plenty to ponder on. He championed the state chapter of the C.W.L., delighted in solving problems for parishioners, and was a true gentleman, a quiet, clever man. May heaven welcome him and may he rest in peace.

After dinner, Peter introduced our guest of honour; Bishop Michael. The Bishop had been in Mackay and also reflected on Fr Pat as a super-generous, wonderful priest. He thanked the priests present for their service to our region, noting that we are lucky to have them.

Bishop Michael then introduced Sai Siracho Santos. Sai assisted the Bishop with the overhead presentation. They had just returned from the World Youth Day celebrations in Portugal. where there were nineteen attendees from our diocese. Over 2 million 18-35-year-olds from around the world gathered at events supported by 25,000 volunteers. Simply amazing!

Sai mentioned he is part of a group at Farleigh that supports the Youth For Christ and Kids For Christ groups as a leader. He was VERY nervous when the Bishop invited him to join the tour to Lisbon. But wow! What a trip it was. Sai is from the Philippines, has been in Mackay for ten years, and came from the Sunshine Coast after some time in the Middle East because of his dad’s career. At twenty-one he has completed one year of medicine at JCU, is currently doing a diploma in theology, and is on a faith journey towards vocation discernment while being a part-time dental assistant. He asks for our prayers.

Rex Fraser, Sai Siracho Santos and Bishop Michael

When considering talking at the dinner, Sai said he focused on ‘Pilgrimage’. In particular, 3 stages; Part 1; the Journey, Part 2; the Destination, and Part 3; Homeward Reflections. The journey’s destinations were; Avila, Salamanca, Lisbon and Fatima. Avila is the “Castle”, a walled city to make Christ the centre and get close to God. All the youth getting together there was a marvelous time. Nearby was Segovia with Roman aqueducts. In Europe, summer was very hot. Visiting the sites associated with St John of the Cross was like entering a ‘different universe’, basking in heavenly presence, seeing the grandeur of the church buildings, and the wonderful beauty.



Sai also mentioned the Salamanca Cathedral which has a “frog in the wall” stone carving. This new cathedral has an astronaut in the wall carving also. In Lisbon, the Cardinal of Lisbon welcomed the crowds that packed the streets like ‘sardines’ before entering the stadium, – full of the youth of the world, our universal church, incredibly powerful! There was a sleep-out vigil for the final Commissioning Mass and then at 6 a.m. a DJ Priest was the ‘Alarm Clock!’ It was so hot, we were a smelly, but joyful mob on a 9km walk to the mass.
Next came Fatima. Time to reflect, stop, and consider ‘What next?’ Mary’s appearance? Why? All are called to be witnesses to Jesus Christ. We became candles of light in a procession where “Hail Marys” were being spoken in foreign languages. So wonderful but now? What of Vocation?
Sai wanted to thank us all for our support towards the ‘pilgrimage’. He has set up a blog detailing the travels, videos, and commentary, “My Journey”. There will be updates as time permits. Please pray for him as he ponders his next steps in vocation; medicine, theology, and mission. May Jesus help Sai discern his path for 2024 with full intention, and to finish the Journey, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Laurence Bonaventura moved a vote of thanks to Bishop Michael and Sai. The talk was very enlightening. Laurence had been at W.Y.D. in 2008 in Sydney. He thanked Bishop Michael and congratulated him on 45 years as a priest. He encouraged Sai to always remember this very special experience and the memories of W.Y.D. Lisbon 2023. We will pray, God will help you reach your future. Those gathered agreed in applause.

Graham delivered a donation to Bishop Michael for the Western Ministries. The Bishop thanked us for our support and the next generation coming through all fired up for the mission.

It was a most enjoyable night. Our next dinner is on Monday 25th September at 6.30 pm for a 7 pm start at the Boomerang Hotel. Des Crowe will be the speaker. Visitors are always welcome.”