Consider the role of the parish secretary. Usually the first point of call for a parish, they tend to take on responsibilities and add to parish life far beyond answering phone calls and emails.
As she prepares to farewell the Friars of St Francis and the community of St Bernadette’s Parish, Dundas Valley, parish secretary of 15 years Cathy Farrugia spoke to Catholic Outlook about why this has been much more than just a job.
“The saying that comes to mind is that if you enjoy your job, you never work a day in your life. This has truth for me,” Cathy told Catholic Outlook.
“The Friars welcomed me into their community with open arms.
“I started working at St Bernadette’s when my son was in kindergarten. I had heard so many positive comments about the Friars and was eager to work for people who gave so much to the community.
“I have loved coming into work here and being with the Friars, sharing stories and always laughing. I will miss Fr Christopher playing the piano, Fr Ruben telling me funny anecdotes and Fr Benedict being cheeky and stealing my pens and the smell of great food from the kitchen.
“Even during dark times with the loss of my mum, dad and nephew, I received support, kindness and empathy. With this, I was able to heal and gain strength through their guidance in dealing with the grief,” she said.
Originally coming from outside of the parish, Cathy soon came to appreciate the faith and strength of the community.
“The parishioners here are some of the most beautiful people I have ever met.
“One part of the role that was particularly difficult was attending the funerals of some special parishioners whom I grew to love and care for, and it was sad to bid farewell to them.
“I watched in admiration the generosity of the volunteers who give so much of their time in working for the Church. I hope that in the future, this is something I can duplicate within my own parish and community.
“I will miss the parishioners who came to the door – all the warm smiles and continued support throughout the years,” she explained.
Fr Christopher Sharah FSF, parish priest, told Catholic Outlook that Cathy made all who approached the parish feel welcomed and at ease.
“She was always patient, kind and courteous to all who would ring or come to the door.
“There was always a good spirit in the house with Cathy and she said that even when she was feeling down, coming here would lift her up.
“She will be greatly missed, not only as secretary, but as part of the family here.
“May God bless her always and reward her for all that she has done for us,” Fr Christopher said.
Cathy explained that there were too many people to thank for their support and encouragement over her 15 years.
“My time around here does not feel like 15 years. Perhaps it is enjoying what you do and loving the people around you. The friendships will not be forgotten.
“I only hope that I made a difference to at least one person who contacted the parish, for whatever reason, and that I made them feel better.
“I never had a bad day.”
Catholic Outlook wishes Cathy all the best as she moves into the next chapter of her life.
If you have a story to share about your parish secretary or other person central to your parish’s success, let us know so we can inspire others with their story.