Parramatta RSL Sub-Branch: A bridge between past and future

By Jordan Grantham, 10 November 2017
Msgr John Boyle at a Remembrance Day ceremony, Prince Alfred Park, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Bryan West is the Secretary and Welfare Officer of the City of Parramatta Returned Services League Sub-Branch and has a key organising role in memorial services, including Anzac Day Dawn Service and the Remembrance Day Ceremony at Prince Alfred Park, Parramatta.

Bryan is Catholic and an old boy of St Augustine’s College, Brookvale. He takes pride in using the bells of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta during the Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11.

“I timed it so that the minute of silence coincided with the bells of St Patrick’s Cathedral at midday,” Bryan said.

“Last year it worked perfectly.”

Other events for the Parramatta RSL Sub-Branch include their meetings, reunions, commemorations, funerals and sometimes decommissioning of war memorials.

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Former Chaplain Msgr Boyle was a key presence at such events until commencing his new job in Rome.

An Anzac Day ceremony was also Msgr Boyle’s last pastoral duty in Australia, before departing for Rome that day.

The Parramatta Swimming Pool had one such decommissioning in April 2017 because it was actually the Parramatta and District War Memorial Swimming Pool. The Parramatta Advertiser reported on this quintessentially Australian and unusual ceremony at the pool.

Pastor Bob Durban, from the Uniting Church, conducted the ceremony.

“As the sun dipped, Parramatta RSL trooped in with a flag and a priest called Father Bob. Serious men who have served their country and the only people at the pool dressed smartly in blazers and long pants. It felt right they made a fitting tribute to this pool named in honour of all those who had fallen in World War II,” Tony Bosworth wrote.

“Most got out of the water and stood in a semi-circle in silence as the Last Post echoed eerily, the mournful sound broken only by the shrieks of small children still playing and splashing, too young to understand, and the priest in all his finery led a short prayer for the pool, the people who have attended over the years, and for the future.”

This Remembrance Day the bells of St Patrick’s will toll again, as the Parramatta RSL Sub-Branch commemorates those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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