Note Well: These small biographies are not meant as a series of comparisons or contrasts. Each priest is an individual and has to be seen as such; no one priest is better or worse than any other. Each one contributes to the good of the people by his own talents and in his own way. So we thank God for the gifts of these dedicated men and enshrine their names in our collective memory. The Assistant Priests and their deeds are recorded in the main history section.
Fr Michael Brendan Greene
Tom McCarthy collected much of this information.
Fr Michael Brendan Greene was appointed foundation Parish Priest of St Flannan's on the 16th March, 1953. He was born in Ireland and ordained in 1938, and came to the Diocese of Rockhampton shortly afterwards. He worked there till 1952 when he was transferred to Ipswich North before being appointed to Zillmere. Beryl Ashton recalls that he named the parish after the seminary in Ireland where he studied for the priesthood. She also mentions that “he could speak seven languages and had the best sense of humour one could imagine”.
Michael Greene is one of those people whose image seems to grow with the passing years. He was a complex personality with no illusions about himself; what you saw was what you got. He did not worry much about appearances, as John Cain found out one day. It appears that John, who did not know Fr Greene, had come to the church and was looking for the priest. There was a rather bedraggled figure working in the garden at the Presbytery so John approached him and asked for the priest. The bedraggled one looked John in the eye and said “You’re looking at him”.
Gifted with the missionary zeal, aided by the Holy Spirit Sisters and parishioners, he sowed the seeds for the parish of today. Within a year he arranged for the Sisters to start the school. Simultaneously, with the willing help of the parishioners, he organised the building of the church, parish hall, presbytery, the three room ‘high’ school, septic toilet block and more.
He gathered people together as a community. Assisted by the Sisters he established the Children of Mary, Sacred Heart Sodality, Holy Name Society, St Vincent de Paul Society, Sunday Night dances and all the other parish activities. He did this without a Curate in a parish of young, growing families which had few, if any, well off parishioners. Money was scarce.
He was a team builder who could get people on side, but he remained the boss and tended to dominate. However, Norm Ryan comments that as long as one stood up to him then the relationship was a good one, and the working bees always ended in a happy hour. Beryl Ashton adds that “he had lots of fallings out with people but appreciated it if folk would have their say and forget it – as he did”.
Several of the older parishioners mentioned that they thought that he was a very lonely man. Once he spoke about it from the pulpit when he said something to the effect ‘You people see a monk in his habit and sandals and think that he is a Christ like figure. But he lives in a community amongst many other men. There is nothing lonelier than the secular priest.’ And the priest in those days was very isolated, especially one whose family was on the other side of the world.
Michael Greene had a constant struggle with alcohol. He did not try to conceal it; he even mentioned it from the pulpit at Mass, admitting that he would have to answer to God for it. Some of the parishioners thought his loneliness was the cause of his drinking; maybe it was, but whatever the cause he carried a heavy burden.
However, he never gave up and, in spite of his problem, he set up a viable parish and a flourishing school.
Marj Winning recalls: Once Father had two missionaries visiting and he asked some of the ladies to prepare a meal for the visitors. The ladies went to the presbytery to do the job but Father took over. He wanted to cook his favourite dish, Irish stew. He butchered the meat with a tomahawk and proceeded to make the stew himself, leaving the ladies with only the sweets to prepare. Finally the ladies served the stew which was eaten with great gusto by the three priests. Then before the ladies were able to serve the sweets the priests, accompanied by the presbytery dog, Misty, proceeded to sing a medley of Irish songs. With the sweets forgotten, the ladies were left wondering why they were called to help in the first place.
Thelma Stewart writes: Her son, Bruce, was a little boy with a great imagination and spent a lot of time as a sheriff rounding up baddies with his gun slung on his hip. Fr Greene told Bruce that when he started school in Grade 1, he was to be Father’s sheriff and report any kid who did the wrong thing. Bruce did that and became very unpopular at school for a time. Actually, Bruce did become a sheriff later when he joined the Qld Police Force and became a Senior Sergeant.
Fr Greene had several dogs including Misty, a female Border collie and Boybe, a large type of Fox Terrier. They were among his most devoted parishioners. Everywhere Fr Greene went, the dogs were sure to follow, and that included Mass. Misty usually hid behind the altar and caused the parishioners some concern because they feared that Father might trip over her. If she was locked out of the church she would sit on the steps and howl. Concentrating on the Mass could be a challenge in those days.
Fr Greene’s Misty was the envy of all the kids at the school. Robert Stewart had always wanted a dog. So when Misty got to hang around with some ‘local canine scoundrel’ she produced a litter ‘just like Misty’. Father gave one to Robert who took it home in his school bag.
The family was stuck with the puppy. Mum could not refuse an excited, happy little boy who had just been given a precious gift by his PP. Unfortunately, when it was spayed it did not survive the operation and there were three, very sad little boys in the house.
When Fr Greene celebrated his Silver jubilee he had a rather high old time after which he tried to ring President Kennedy (in the USA) and was most upset because they would not put him through to the President. (I wonder what the White House thought when a rather ‘merry’ Irish priest from Australia wanted to talk to the President?)
The school children loved him. Some afternoons he would sit on the tuckshop steps and entertain the children on their way home after school with fantastic stories about Ireland. Cecily Cairns (nee Ashton), who was one of these children, remembers him as ‘the Irish priest in the white panama hat’ who laughed and joked, and could dance the Irish Jig. She believed every story he told. He even left her the pillars off his Silver Jubilee cake for her wedding cake, and she used them, 14 years later.
His care of the sick and other people in need was outstanding. Thelma Stewart remembers Fr Greene as a most compassionate man. This was shown by his care for Martin who used to get angina. When Martin was bad Thelma would first ring the priest and then the doctor. Fr Greene would come and look after Martin till the Doctor arrived. This was not unusual in those days as Catholics were exhorted to be prepared for a sudden death. If you were dying then the Priest was far more important than the Doctor.
He often paid parishioners’ electricity bills when they were broke. He would buy food for the nuns and send it to them anonymously. When the Sisters arrived he gave them the old house and went to live in one of the old sheds. On the other hand, Beryl Ashton remembers that he used to tease the nuns by leaving copies of Woman’s Weekly in the sacristy open at a photo or article that was bound to horrify them.
Fr Greene was very good when visiting the sick and the dying and this extended to the dead. When William Fox Sr died he sat with the coffined body all night in the old homestead that served as a Church. There was no electricity, only candle light.
At least once, Fr Greene took up the collection to see who was putting what on the plate and to encourage people to give more, as the parish was seriously short of money. He used to openly scoff at anyone putting a penny on the collection plate, and one Sunday he actually threw the pennies collected over the stairs at the entrance to the church. Some parishioners, who were not very well off, remonstrated with him because a few pennies still bought necessities. The children collected the pennies after Mass.
The parishioners took Fr Greene’s money sermons very seriously. One Sunday Clare Foxwell found she did not have any money when the plate came round, and she told Ces Barnes who was taking up the collection. He told her to put her hand in the plate and he would shake it to make it seem as though she had made her contribution.
Michael Greene had firm opinions and made them clearly known. One instance of this was when all the men of the Holy Name Society were sitting in the front seats at Sunday Mass. He told a startled congregation that he had heard a Holy Name man take the Sacred Name of God and use it in conversation. He was shocked, the congregation was shocked and the Holy Name men were even more shocked. Some of them began to examine their consciences. He never explained just what he had heard but it could have been the expression ‘Jeese’, which is a common expression but not blasphemous. The men were worried because they may have unwittingly given bad example and then some may have wondered if they should go to Communion that morning! One can smile about these things now but at the time they were a real worry for scrupulous men.
Bob Stewart wrote in Shalom September, 1994:
The new Father Greene seemed faster at saying Mass than Father O'Callaghan (St Dympna’s) and that was a good point. (As an altar boy later on, I learnt he could get through a Latin Mass in 17 minutes). They both seemed to like banging and yelling during the sermon though - must be so we could understand their funny accents.
(At the school) Father was everywhere. He had a huge mower that he rode around the grounds, picking up bits of debris and throwing them out of the way. We noticed they flew quite well, and next week he had the same pieces to pick up again. I remember he once broke the girls' cricko bat when they put a ball through one of the windows with the cross on it. The girls were upset because it wouldn't have been as bad if one of the "uncrossed" windows had been broken.
1956 was the year of the Hungarian revolution and the Labor Party split. Sundays were quite noisy from the pulpit as Fr. Greene espoused the official line on what Catholics should be doing about the ‘Communists’ in the Labor Party.
The scenes from "Power Without Glory" (Written by Frank Hardy a prominent left wing writer) involving Archbishop Mannix were repeated regularly from St. Flannan's pulpit. Father seemed to enjoy these sermons - the noisier he got, the better the mood he was in with the altar boys.
He was one of the priests who served in the time when not many of the parishioners were well educated in the academic sense. Those were the days when the parishioner came to Father for help in all sorts of situations. The priest usually knew somebody who would help. Now we go to the solicitor, doctor, etc, without the need to consult Father.
His end was sudden and unexpected. The Courier Mail, Friday 14 August, 1964, reported on the front page that he was killed when he was struck by a car while crossing Gympie Road at the Aspley Shopping centre at 8.25pm the previous night (Thursday 13/8/1964). He was 53 years old, suffered severe head injuries and was dead when the ambulance carrying him reached the General Hospital.
Police said he had parked his car on the outbound side of Gympie Road with its headlights on and was crossing the road towards a chemist’s shop when he was hit by a station sedan travelling towards the city.
The Telegraph, Saturday 15/8/1964, reported that a Solemn requiem mass for Fr Michael Brendan Greene, pp Zillmere North, would be celebrated at St Stephen’s RC Cathedral on Monday at 10am (17/8/1964) It added that the ambulance taking him to hospital was slightly damaged in a side-swipe collision at Windsor.
Beryl Ashton remembers, “We were all very fond of him. When he was killed we were shattered, but he sure left us with some wonderful memories”.
Fr Martin Doyle
Fr Martin Doyle became PP on 6th September, 1964 and remained till 5th January, 1977 when he was transferred to Burleigh Heads as PP. Zillmere was his first appointment as a parish priest.
Perhaps the best place to start looking at the pivotal role played by Fr Doyle in the parish is to go to a letter dated 17/1/1994. It was sent to him by Archbishop Rush on his (Doyle,s) retirement following a stroke:
The Archdiocese has countless reasons to be grateful to you. On Priests like you, who were ordained more than 9 years before the Council (Vatican II) opened, largely depended its implementation in a Diocese. Your sense of Church was such that you not only absorbed the Council’s teaching and put it into practice in the Parishes where you served, but you wielded an enormous influence on the other Priests of the Archdiocese. You exerted this influence not only by the example you set in your own Parishes, but also through your support of every Archdiocesan project and your membership of Archdiocesan bodies like the Council of Priests.
Martin Doyle came to Zillmere during one of the great turning points in Church history. And it is only when we start to get well beyond that point, do we see what enormous changes took place, and are still taking place in the Church of Zillmere. Even using such a term as the Church of Zillmere is a big change.
The changes that followed the Council did not just happen; they were incubating for decades in the minds and works of many people. Theologians, Biblical Scholars, Priests and Bishops, along with Lay people, were gradually working towards dragging the Church into the 20th Century. Many suffered greatly at the hands of the Vatican as they proposed ideas that were not acceptable to the Curia or the Papacy. The Council gave legitimacy to many of these ideas and, in fact, liberated many of those who originally proposed them.
The great Council did not finish till the following year but already massive changes were underway, perhaps the most prominent one being the change from Latin to English in the Mass. This started a couple of months before Fr Doyle arrived and was followed by the new Rite of Marriage in 1969, the new Rite of Baptism for Children in 1969, the new three year liturgy cycle in 1973 and the new Rite of Confirmation in 1975. Changes were following hard upon each other in an unprecedented fashion and had to be implemented by men untrained for the task. These men had to rely on their native ability and the Holy Spirit to get them through. They did, and they succeeded, magnificently.
As a Parish Priest he was expected to find out about changes being made and try to understand them, sell the ideas to the people at parish meetings and from the pulpit and then implement them. Moving from a priest centred liturgy, to a priest and people liturgy was a long jump. Readers, Eucharistic Ministers, Congregational responses, Priest facing the people, new detached altar, altar rails removed, what to do with the statues, congregational singing instead of choir singing. From hearing the Mass said, to participating in the Mass meant changing the habits of a life time. The rosary and private prayers did not fit in with the new liturgy, the responses interrupted them. As J.B. Montini (Pope Paul VI) said “You shouldn’t pray at Mass, you should pray the Mass.”
Apart from these major changes there were the minor ones, such as how long did a person have to be at Mass to really fulfil the Sunday obligation? Could women come into the church without a hat or head covering? Did one genuflect to the altar? Could we really eat meat on a Friday? For some the changes were too much, they left, but most tried and managed to make the adjustments.
Sr Christa Murphy recalls:
Fr Doyle was a very committed priest who had a great reverence for the priesthood and his role as a spiritual leader. At the time there were regular reports of priests leaving the active ministry and he grieved deeply over this. At times he would go into the church, kneel down before the Blessed Sacrament and weep. He was a shy man who had many gifts which enabled him to serve the people of the parish. His flair for liturgy and drama combined to help him develop a prayerful atmosphere as he led the people in worship. He was a good speaker and a good singer, both of which helped in his mission to Zillmere.
Arriving in the parish in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, he was open to the need for change. A couple of the younger Sisters wanted to start class Masses for the children so they went to Fr Doyle and explained their ideas. He was receptive enough to let them show him how to structure the Mass so that it reached the level that even the youngest children could understand. In the process he developed a wonderful liturgical style that reached into the hearts of the adults.
Particularly memorable was the Good Friday ceremonies of 1973. At the veneration of the cross Fr Doyle held the cross aloft while the congregation sang a particularly touching hymn. They did not sing it once, but repeated it and repeated it while the cross was held up. It was a particular ‘God moment’ when the congregation felt the presence of God among His people. Martin Doyle was leading them into an experience that is still remembered in 2002. In fact his celebration of the Eucharist attracted non Catholic parents because they felt that they were worshiping in the presence of God.
In the period of intense change, for some it was turmoil, that followed the Council, Fr Doyle and the Sisters sowed the seeds of many future changes which would take years to emerge. The process is still going on; once started there is no turning back.
Tom McCarthy comments how parishioners remember Fr Doyle’s personal holiness – he led by example – his devotion to the Eucharist, reconciliation, his love of the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament and prayer was infectious. His attention to detail in those areas left no doubt as to his sincere faith, which he readily shared. One of his gifts was his ability to recall people's names, even those of children whom he had not seen for many years. He treated each person equally and never differentiated.
In addition to the liturgical and spiritual development, he had to attend to the day to day business of running the parish:
Supervising the expansion of the school by three blocks of classrooms and beginning the Library;
Managing the parish debt which was growing;
Supervising the school change over from a Religious to a Lay Principal - the Sisters did not leave till much later;
Training seminary students in parish life during their deaconate period;
Driving the school/mass bus six days a week and knowing all the children by name. Later he drove only when the regular drivers were unavailable;
Organising laity as readers, musicians, counters, cleaners, home discussion groups, etc;
Communion in the hand, New Rite of Reconciliation and celebrating the Third Rite.
Perhaps an understanding of how he coped can be gathered from the comment he made when reviewing some letters he received on his retirement. He said “The letters speak eloquently of the people of St Flannan’s Parish rather than the Priest who happened to be there at the time. I see Parish Priest and Parishioner as co-relative terms; each without the other has no meaning.” Right - but it was still up to the Priest to give the lead, and he did.
The final comment is made by his successor, then Father now Bishop Brian Heenan, who wrote on 16/12/1993, “You left me a great community at St Flannan’s, the spirit of which changed my whole approach to ministry. Thank you for that.”
Fr Brian Heenan
Fr Heenan took up his appointment as PP of St Flannan’s on 9th January, 1977 and continued till September 1990 when he was appointed as Co-ordinator to the Ongoing Education of Priests in the Archdiocese.
Sr Christa Murphy comments:
When Fr Heenan arrived, the period of change inaugurated by the Second Vatican Council was still in progress but the foundations had been laid by Fr Doyle. Many of these embryonic changes were to grow under the leadership of the new pastor.
Fr Heenan was ordained on 29th June, 1962 just as the Second Vatican Council was starting. He had been trained in the pre Vatican II style but would minister in the new style determined by the Council. His work at Zillmere shows just how well he absorbed and practised the teachings and outlook of the aggiornamento (updating) and vision of Pope John XXIII and the steady guiding hand of Pope Paul VI.
Marnie Dann observes:
Fr Heenan was a very pastoral priest and a very good manager of people. He affirmed and empowered them so that they believed themselves capable of doing things that previously they would not have dreamed of doing. Then they went ahead and did them. He had the knack of floating an idea, letting people take it up and then congratulating them on thinking about it and developing it. Often, he first had to convince people that they could be Ministers or Readers etc., because they felt that they were unworthy.
He was also a very able administrator who had many programs running in the parish with many people involved, but was still in overall control. What is today called Collaborative Ministry, he called co-existence, where all people worked together and fed information into the parish centre.
Fr Heenan was a man who could see the value of technology and early on invested in an office computer for which Marnie, as Parish Secretary, wrote a program to deal with school fees and other data. This was still in use in 2001.
Tom McCarthy looks at the achievements of Fr Heenan:
During his time as PP he continued the school building program of classrooms and a new library building which was opened at the end of his first year. He organised the internal structural changes in the church building to give effect to recommendations of the Second Vatican Council by:
Relocating the altar and rearranging the seating thus making the altar central to the whole church;
Providing a separate chapel for the housing the Blessed Sacrament where it was held for visits to the sick and where private adoration can take place;
Providing a combined reconciliation and quiet room.
Changes, within the Parish, which stemmed from the Council teachings included:
Establishing the Parish Pastoral Council;
Introduction of the RCIA program;
Development of the Caring Community (later the Care and Concern) Group;
Continuing training of seminary students during their Deaconate and Pastoral years;
Establishment of Antioch for the young people;
Developing the Ecumenical movement with other Churches in the area;
Employment Referral Service to help the unemployed;
Lenten Program of annual renewal;
Networking to reach out to all Catholics in the parish;
The first Parish Pastoral Assistant, Sr Judith Murphy, who became part of the Parish Team;
Annual Open Air Mass which brought the whole parish together to celebrate the only mass for the weekend.
Other changes included:
Expanding parish fete into Flarana Fair;
Dealing with the changes caused by the departure of the Holy Spirit Sisters from the parish and school;
Assistant Priests who served the parish under the direction of Fr Heenan included:
Fr Gerry Hefferan, July 1979 to January 1982;
Fr Kevin Carey, January 1982 to January 1983;
Fr Peter Dillon, August 1983 to January 1985;
Fr John Chalmers, August 1985 to August 1988;
Fr Tony Hallam, January 1989 to December 1991.
Fr Heenan celebrated his 25th Anniversary of Ordination with his Seminary class mates in St Stephen’s Cathedral on the 28th June, 1987. A dinner was put on by the Parish in St Flannan’s staff room on Wednesday, 1st July, 1987. This was followed by the jubilarians concelebrating mass with Archbishop Rush on Thursday, 2nd July at Holy Cross, Wooloowin.
On Sunday, 26th August, 1990 at the annual Open Air Mass, held as a farewell to Fr Brian, there were some 2000 people present. He was presented with a T Shirt on which was emblazoned a Kookaburra perched on a St Flannan’s sign, pointing to a large gum tree.
Fr Brian had been overseas and, while abroad, had been appointed as co-ordinator of the Ministry to Priests. He wrote to Fr Tony Hallam from Palestine to announce his new appointment. Fr Tony read the letter at the Masses to stunned congregations. We, rejoiced in his new appointment, but grieved at his moving on after 13 years at Zillmere.
A Parish Assembly was held to decide what kind of pastor the parishioners wanted as a replacement for Fr Brian. The consensus was an outline of all the things Fr Brian was. Could there be any greater acclamation of him by the people of Zillmere?
Fr Brian was appointed Bishop of Rockhampton in July, 1991
Fr Ashley Warbrooke
Tom McCarthy, Ken Manwaring and Editor.
The Parish Bulletin on 2nd September, 1990 announced that Fr Ashley Warbrooke was to take up his appointment as PP of Zillmere on 1st January 1991. He stayed in the parish until he went on Sabbatical leave at the end of July, 1996. This was his first appointment as PP after having served as assistant priest at Darra, Wishart, Ipswich and Clayfield. He was Secretary to Archbishop Rush for 4 years and during that time was involved with the Cathedral parish and Gregory Terrace College.
He made an ideal replacement for Fr Brian because he had the same charisma and fitted in well with the majority of the parishioners. He took over a well running organization and kept it up to speed by constantly adjusting and enthusing where necessary.
When Fr Ashley became parish priest he was assisted by Fr Tony Hallam, who was, shortly after, transferred to the Cathedral and was not replaced at St Flannan’s. This was the first time since 1979 that the parish was served by only one priest. As vocations to the priesthood had been declining for some years Fr Ashley did not expect any assistant, apart for the occasional seminary student doing his Pastoral year or Deaconate.
He had the support of the Pastoral Assistants, Sr Judith Murphy PBVM, till she left in February 1994, and then Sr Moira Sheedy LCM. His was the shortest term served by a Parish Priest at St Flannan’s. But when he arrived he announced that he would only stay a short while as he felt that this was the best arrangement for the parish. However, he worked tirelessly at a pastoral level and became very closely involved with families in distress and/or in need. He was most compassionate in his dealings with others.
Fr Ashley was also involved with school activities and was known to all the children and their families. He had a special empathy with the youth of the parish and also with Nudgee College. He was also available for helping at retreats and Masses at St Columban’s College, Albion. The staff appreciated him because he was willing to fit in with whatever they were planning, while he was very popular with the students because of his humour and ability to communicate with them.
He believed in autonomy and appointed people to carry out tasks consistent with their talents and capabilities with faith that the job would be well done. He had the gift of spontaneous speaking and could cope with any impromptu situation. He boasted that his homilies lasted no longer than seven minutes but, in that time, he could illuminate the Gospels with a rare gift approaching the power of parables, thus showing that he was a gifted preacher of the word.
He was an unassuming man prepared to listen sympathetically at all times without being judgmental. His leadership has been inspirational, never outdistancing us with theological dissertations, perhaps bearing in mind the saying that ‘the road to hell is paved with theologians’. He had an ability to keep calm in all situations and make light of days when things didn’t go according to plan.
During his term as PP he put into effect the decision to build a parish administration centre, the need for which had been established by his predecessor. The parish demands for use of the meeting rooms have more than justified this decision.
In accordance with Archdiocesan requirements he formed the first Parish Finance Council to replace the former Finance Committee. The role of the Council is to oversee parish finances and to assist the Parish Priest who has ultimate responsibility.
His puckish sense of humour and willingness to share in a joke are sadly missed. An instance of this was his willingness to be the victim of a well aimed ball and be dunked in water, many times, at Flarana Fair as part of fund raising. He loved to highlight the birthdays of others while being averse to any mention of his own. He would always claim that “Ash Wednesday” was his birthday. Get it?
He reverenced the past, adapted to the present and had a vision for the future.
Fr John Kilinko
Tom McCarthy and the Editor.
Fr John Kilinko was born 12th February, 1956 at Ashgrove, the second of four children of Betty (Irish) and Frank (Hungarian) Kilinko, and ordained on the 2nd July, 1979 after studying at Banyo Seminary. His first appointment was to St William’s at Grovely, then to Maryborough, to Hendra, to Hamilton, to Corinda as Administrator and to Beenleigh as Pastor. In 1994 he took Sabbatical leave to study in the USA where he made many friends and to whom he returns when he has saved up enough money to pay the air fare. On returning to Brisbane he was stationed at Redcliffe City, then the Gold Coast and then to Zillmere as Parish Priest.
Fr John was appointed PP in August 1996 and is still in that position in 2003. He has probably had one of the most difficult periods to manage the parish since the time of Fr Greene. While the parish has continued to grow, the financial constraints have made it impossible to employ another Pastoral Assistant since Sr Moira Sheedy left in July 1999. However, the situation is constantly being reviewed.
The original school buildings were deemed by the Catholic Education Office to be substandard and required upgrading. Although State and Commonwealth governments have assisted to a great extent, the school, through the parish, has had to borrow considerable loan funds. The work of upgrading has been proceeding in stages over a number of years and is continuing. A new preschool was erected and commissioned on 29th April, 2002 to enable the school to keep up with the demand for this type of service. It also provides a natural catchment base for the primary school.
Parishioners have become appreciative of Fr John’s outstanding preaching skills and his ability to make each homily relative to today’s lifestyle. His unique style of preaching, which consists of a mixture of pulpitry and peripateticism around the church, catches and holds the attention of the listeners. He really doesn’t need a microphone, but he still uses one. Many people come to St Flannan’s from the surrounding areas because of the liturgy and homilies.
Fr John is a man in touch with the world as it is, not as it should be, and he is quick to see the problems that affect the parishioners. This enables him to help the many troubled people who approach him. The Third Rite of Reconciliation was regularly held each Christmas and Easter in the parish. The strong support by the parishioners for the Rite was shown by the fact that the church was filled to capacity for each session. When the Rite was banned for regular use the disappointment of the parishioners was palpable but Fr John kept the spirit of reconciliation alive in the parish, developing a similar rite, the Communal Celebration of Forgiveness/Penance. This is also very strongly supported.
He is the latest of a line of gifted pastors that St Flannan’s has had since its inception. Furthermore he is the first pastor in the parish to be without Assistant priest, Sisters or Pastoral Assistant – he is on his own.
When he arrived at St Flannan’s he stated that he wanted to journey with the parishioners as a ‘fellow traveller’. His homilies are Scripture based and aim to teach people about their faith so that they are more capable of making decisions about their lives. Except for matters of dogma, he will give his opinion if asked but makes it clear that it is his opinion. This strategy is very much in the spirit of Vatican II which treats people as informed, sensible, thinking adults who are capable of making up their own minds.
One way of viewing the changes that have taken place in St Flannan’s over the last fifty years is to examine the profile of each priest. The first, Fr Green was a man of his time who had to control the parish; the people, the Archbishop and Canon Law expected him to do that. Following through to the present, Fr John Kilinko has a very different attitude as shown in his concept of being a ‘fellow traveller’.
In recent years Fr John has been travelling on the Internet and regularly visits ecclesial sites in various countries to get ideas for the parish. Of particular interest is his designing of the Parish Bulletin using material culled from these sources, some of it quite striking. Just recently he found the epithet “…NOT A PLACE where, BUT A PEOPLE who…” which he uses on the mast head of the Bulletin to signify the importance of the parishioners who are the people of God. The people sanctify the place when they invite God into their midst. It also carries connotations of a pilgrim people continually moving on and not forever bound to old rites and customs (the Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath), or to one place, which reflects the migrant nature of the parishioners. (I have called you by name, you are mine).
In 2004 he will be the third PP to celebrate his Silver Jubilee at St Flannan’s along with Frs Michael Green and Brian Heenan. We are looking forward to it.