The Catholic Church of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains has farewelled one of its much-loved priests.
The life and ministry of Fr Michael “Mick” O’Callaghan, Emeritus Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains was celebrated today – the Solemnity of St Patrick – in a Mass of Christian Burial at the Parish of Baulkham Hills (St Michael’s Church).
Fr Mick was known to generations of Catholics through his 45-year ministry at parishes in Wentworthville, Leura, Seven Hills, Richmond, Baulkham Hills, and Emu Plains. He was also the Dean of the Mountains Deanery.
“Rest In Peace, Father Mick! Such a kind and gentle man. He was the hero of Antioch at St Monica’s, Richmond throughout my young adulthood. The Priest who married us and Baptised two of our babies. (He was amused that we tracked him down at his new parish). A sad day. Sending love to his family,” Karen Owens said on Facebook.
Hundreds of parishioners, friends, and fellow clergy gathered to pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Mick in the Mass celebrated by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta. The Mass was concelebrated with Fr Wim Hoekstra, clergy from the Diocese of Parramatta, and other Dioceses.
“Mick has completed his earthly pilgrimage of faith, hope and love,” Bishop Vincent said, welcoming the gathered present in the church and via a video live stream.
In his homily, Fr Wim (parish priest of the Parish of Baulkham Hills) touched on the recently-deceased Bishop Bede Heather.
“After Bishop Bede resigned from the Diocese in 1997 he wrote to Mick, ‘Well there were some good decisions…and one of them was to accept you into Parramatta. Thank you for joining the Diocese so readily and wholeheartedly’. It is a sobering thought that Mick and Bede were called to God within a few weeks of each other, and they will be buried next to each other at Castle Hill Cemetery until the last day,” Fr Wim said.
Fr Wim also noted Fr Mick’s “almost 50 years of work amongst LGBTIQ Catholics and their families, especially at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the late 80s and 90s.”
It was this work with marginalised groups and those in need that Fr Mick was noted for, Fr Wim said.
“So in his life he foreshadowed the worker in the field hospital, of which Pope Francis is always so fond. His ministry therefore imitated that of Christ the Good Shepherd who calls us, and who knows each of us by name – as indeed Mick also was able to do.
“Mick threw himself wholeheartedly into the vocation to which God had led him, serving in the parish communities of Seven Hills, Leura, Richmond, Baulkham Hills and Emu Plains, always being the much-loved pastor, able to walk with the marginalised and those hurting, offering mercy, sympathy, kindness, compassion, support and reminding them always that there are ‘many rooms on my father’s house.’”
In finishing his homily, Fr Wim again referenced Bishop Bede who wrote to Fr Mick upon leaving his ministry at Baulkham Hills. “‘I remember our first meeting at Cardinal Gilroy Village and praise God for the good done through you down all those years since Seven Hills, Leura, Richmond and Baulkham Hills’.”
The Gospel (John 14.1-4) was read by Deacon Tony Hoban, Pastoral Director of St Luke’s Faith Community, Marsden Park where Fr Mick regularly supplied.
The First Reading (Isaiah 43.1-4) was delivered by Elizabeth Crouch with the Responsorial Psalm read by Monica O’Callaghan. Chrissy Rannaste said the Second Reading (2 Tim 4.6-8) and the Prayers of the Faithful were said by Margaret McMahon and James Camden.
Fr Mick was remembered by Josephine Attard on Facebook as “Such a wonderful man, always kind.”
Also commenting on Facebook, May Muller Lai said of Fr Mick “You will be greatly rewarded in Heaven for your wonderful service to the Lord.”
A Vigil Mass for Fr Mick was held at Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains on Tuesday 16 March.
Fr Mick died 5 March 2021, aged 78 and was buried in the Priest’s Section at Castle Hill Cemetery.
In your charity, please pray for the Repose of the Soul of Fr Mick.