Role model. Exemplary. Dedicated. Committed. Key co-worker. Nurturing. Enthusiastic.
These are some of the ways past and present members of Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains have described parish coordinator Christine (Chrissy) Rannaste, who has been a key part of the day-to-day running of the parish for 13 years.
Chrissy, who has been a parishioner of the parish at the foot of the Blue Mountains for 33 years, has decided to hang up her parish keys and begin a new chapter of her life.
“It will be very hard to thank [Chrissy] enough for the wonderful work you have done to this community of Our Lady of the Way,” parish priest Fr Michael Gathuku told Catholic Outlook.
“You were and still are an instrumental member of this community. The time and resources you invested into this community will always be appreciated,” he said.
Chrissy’s journey towards parish secretary began around the time of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. After offering her service during the global youth event as a volunteer, she was asked to fill in for the former parish secretary whilst she went on long service leave.
“As it turned out, she ultimately retired during that time, and because I knew [former parish priest] Fr Robert Anderson quite well, he was happy with me and allowed me to have the position,” Chrissy told Catholic Outlook.
Over her working career at the parish, Chrissy was involved in the Sacramental program and has also been a Special Religious Education (SRE) teacher in the local public schools.
She was fortunate to serve seven priests in her role, who each became an inspiration, friend and brother in Christ to her.
One such parish priest, Fr Paul Roberts, described Chrissy as a “key co-worker” during his time in the parish when he was juggling two ministries.
“I knew I could attempt that dual role whilst Chrissy was in the parish because she has such a thorough sense of care for the parish’s mission and a deep conviction about being present in faith with and among the people,” he said.
“What she did at Emu Plains for many years wasn’t so much a job, as a way of being that’s integral to her living as a person of faith. Her role there has been a real ministry, an accompaniment and leadership in service, in faith and in love, of a community.”
During her time in the parish, one of Chrissy’s greatest blessings was the opportunity to attend World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain, as an adult chaperone.
“My heart’s desire is for children and adults to come to know the Lord and His love for them.
“[Madrid] was such an encouragement to me, such an opportunity of grace for the Church.
“It was a wonderful experience in God where I got to know some of the young people who, from that experience, have gone on to serve the Lord,” she said.
Moving into the next stage of life, Chrissy has already been “signed up” to spend more time with her husband, Arvi, her seven children, and nine grandchildren. She also hopes to continue her SRE teaching.
In describing her as “a gift to our Diocese”, Fr Paul hoped that Chrissy will continue to be so beyond her role at Emu Plains.
“What a spirituality of presence and relationship and of tireless, chosen enthusiasm this beautiful woman of the Gospel lives. What a leader she is in our midst. What a sacrament of service Chrissy chooses to be, and through which she shows us the face of God,” he said.
On his own behalf and of the parish of Our Lady of the Way, Fr Michael wished God’s blessings on Chrissy for her future. He said he considers her young and energetic with a lot of potency, thus the word retirement does not suit her.
“May you find joy and happiness in your new role of life, always remember your achievements, be proud of them, and let them be your source of motivation for your tomorrow,” he said.
Chrissy wished to thank the “wonderful” priests and parishioners whom she was worked and served over her years in the parish.
“I will miss the people here. The perseverance and faithfulness of the people who have served in this parish is a testament to the parish.
“You need people who walk alongside and together with you, and that’s something I’ve experienced with the community here, for which I give thanks to God.
“I will always have a special and deep connection to this little parish.”