Father Martin Cruickshank, the Catholic priest of the Catholic parishes of Finley and Tocumwal, will leave our local communities at the end of October to take up a similar position at Sacred Heart, North Albury.
Fr Martin (pictured) was ordained to the priestly ministry in September 1993 and served in Leeton as an assistant priest until his appointment to Finley/ Tocumwal in 1999.
Fr Martin, or just Martin as he prefers, has endeared himself to people of all religious and nonreligious members of the community and will be greatly missed when he takes up his position in Albury.
During his time in the area, Martin has become involved in many organisations and sporting activities including golf and bowls. It is said that there may even be some golf members who will now have a chance of winning the Wednesday men’s competition.
He is a keen supporter of Essendon Football Club and enjoys his annual visit to the city to attend the Melbourne Cup.
When asked what his time in the area has meant to him, Martin said, ‘‘I have felt deeply privileged to be invited into the intimate moments and movements of people’s lives, regardless of religious affiliation or belief, particularly in times of sadness, loss and grief’’.
‘‘I am most grateful to the other ministers and lay faith leaders for their unconditional support,’’ he said.
‘‘Our regular gatherings have provided an opportunity to pray together, and to listen to and encourage one another.
‘‘While the discussion has often been robust, there has always been a deep sense of respect for a diversity of views on issues that affect our communities.
‘‘Our Easter, Christmas, Anzac Day and bereavement services have provided an opportu- nity to serve the community as a united Christian voice.
‘‘The last 18 years have seen a tremendous growth in aged care facilities and quality pastoral care activities.
‘‘I believe that we need to continue to lobby government at all levels for improved mental health programs and resources in our region.
‘‘The sense of the sacred in these communities has always been for me a source of great blessing. I will miss the smells and sounds of living in a country town, along with its distinct characters, vitality and strong visible bonds that bind a community like ours together.
‘‘I wish to thank the local communities for the welcome, acceptance and friendship extended to me over the last 18 years.’’
Martin has seen many changes take place during his time in the parishes, which includes supervising extensive renovations to Tocumwal’s St Peter’s Church and interior renovations to Finley’s St Mary’s Church.
He has also been involved with local primary schools, building programs, and is delighted with the facilities now available to local students.
One of his most memorable achievements has been to help initiate the annual ecumenical bereavement service which has brought much comfort to many families.
Members of the Berrigan Shire communities will have an opportunity to express their appreciation for Martin’s friendship and assistance during his time in the area with an open farewell function to be held at the Finley Bowling Club on Sunday, October 22. It will begin at noon.
Finger food will be provided and, whilst it is not necessary to RSVP, it would be appreciated to indicate your attendance for catering purposes. Contact Veronica Braybon on 0409 044 848 or Aileen Phelan on 0427 132 713.