In what can almost be seen as the parish’s theme song, parishioners from Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown, were singing “God is Good All the Time” as Fr Reginaldo (Regie) Lavilla MSP was installed as parish priest.
There was joy in the air as Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, celebrated Mass on Sunday 14 November at a St Patrick’s Church that was filled to capacity.
Hundreds more tuned in to the Mass via the parish’s Facebook page, sending their well-wishes to their new parish priest.
“Evidently, there is much love for you here, Fr Regie, by not just the number of people who are here and following online, but also by their commitment to walk with you and to work with you,” Bishop Vincent explained.
“Thank you Fr Regie for accepting this responsibility and I know that there will be challenges associated with this role, but with the grace of God and the friendship and support of the people, especially the leaders of the community here, you will be able to lead the community to a new chapter.
“My congratulations, and above all, my prayers and my promise of support and fraternal companionship as you fulfil your role here at Blacktown.”
During the Homily, Bishop Vincent encouraged the community to pray for Fr Regie as their pastor.
“I thank you for your partnership with him, Fr John Paul and Fr Chadi in carrying out the mission of the Church in this time and in this place.
“I am confident that he will rise to the new challenge and like a good steward, he will work with you in bringing forth treasures both old and new, for the benefit of the community,” he said.
In his words of thanks, a humble Fr Regie gave thanks to Bishop Vincent for his appointment, saying that he offers this appointment to the Lord.
“Honestly, I feel a bit daunted, but I take the responsibility, not for any other reason, but purely for the promise that I have when I was ordained – to give myself to Jesus, and to His Church, and to serve the people entrusted to me and be open to surprises always.
“My formators when I was a seminarian [told me], as a missionary, be open to any surprises, and I would just like to live the vocation and the challenge that has been entrusted to me first of all by the Church and second with Bishop Vincent as our leader.”
Describing himself as “not a Superman”, Fr Regie thanked those with whom he serves, including his Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Committee, the principals and Religious Education Coordinators of the four local schools and the parish team.
“I can only do a little, and God will do the rest. We have people in this parish who are so brilliant and generous in their time and effort and their sacrifice to serve and lead the community.
“These people help me discern this Holy Spirit in how we can serve you and how we can bring Christ to you and bring Christ to others, especially those who are, as Bishop Vincent would say, the marginalised.
“Thank you our dear parishioners, other members of the Filipino Chaplaincy and the Charismatic communities that are here – to show that you truly care for Jesus, you truly care for the Church. I would like you in your own way to bring the Good News to your families, and to others whom you meet. You are our powerhouse, and your prayers are truly appreciated.
“Please pray for me, that’s the only thing I would like to ask from you, that I may be faithful in my vocation, that I may not be afraid, as St Ignatius would say, ‘to give and not count the cost, to labour and not to seek for reward’, but just to give myself.
“Please pray for the courage, wisdom and understanding to be able to serve you and all others who are entrusted to me.”
Messages of joy and congratulations were shared during the livestream Mass.
“Dear Fr Regie. It gives us joy and happiness that God sent you to our Parish. We thank you from the core of our hearts and pray that God blesses you always,” one commenter shared.
“Congratulations Fr Regie. May God continue to use you for His Glory. God bless you more,” another commenter said.
Following Mass, the parish community held a small celebration in the grounds of St Patrick’s Primary School, with Fr Regie cutting a ceremonial cake to another rousing rendition of “God is Good All the Time.”
Re-watch the Rite of installation Mass of Fr Regie at Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown here.
View images from Fr Regie’s installation here or below.