Retired Priest in Action
Ask many a retired person and they often will answer that they’re so busy now that they don’t know how they ever managed to find time for their former working lives. When the same question is put to a retired priest, he just may confirm that his move to what is called “Lesser Duties” is a long way from having shelved the blessings of his ministry.
Monsignor Kerry Bayada is a good example of one who remains active in serving people of faith through ministering to those around him at the Catholic seniors’ village where he now resides. He also helps to address the spiritual needs of families that he came to know through his former role as a Parish Priest.
Aged 83, Mgr Kerry was never keen on counting down to retirement. He actively addressed the faith community of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Caringbah, for three decades before he moved on just three years ago.
He was highly respected and popular there, and in his current location at a seniors’ village, fellow resident Sr Eymard LCM said: “Everybody here loves him”.
Sr Eymard has every right to claim the wisdom of good judgement given that she’s 104 years old and has happily resided in the village for 16 years.
Mgr Kerry celebrates at least three Masses each week, other services such as funerals, as req in and outside the village, He occasionally administers the Sacraments of Confirmation and Confession, “The most satisfying part of my ministry is being involved with the people of this community”.
“People need to be with people,” according to Mgr Kerry. Those without close friends or relatives, as they approach the end of their earthly lives, sincerely appreciate visits from him, staff members and their fellow residents.
Brian is a village resident of three years and says his stay has “brought back memories”. He was a former Chairman of a hospital on that site which had closed just one year short of celebrating its centenary. He lost his wife earlier this year but he continues to enjoy the company of other residents including Sr Eymard – and especially the guidance provided by Mgr Kerry.
It could be said that those who are around him have become something of a family for this Monsignor.
Other priests at times give support to his work which then can provide opportunities for him to rest and even take short holidays that he loves.
There’s quite a distance between the retirement village and the former parish but Mgr Kerry continues to assist in meeting the needs of people like Kay Cook, who remembers Monsignor’s time at the parish by saying: “He’s married two generations and baptised 3 generations”.
Kay and her husband Howard rolled out the welcome mat at their home recently and were joined by another married couple, John and Kathy who are the parents of eight children and have a deep appreciation of their family’s on-going involvement with Mgr Kerry.
Kathy said, “He’s like a part of our family and will go anywhere to offer assistance”. Her husband John added, “He continues to be gentle and welcoming and is always open to anyone who has a problem. It’s almost a case of ‘have Bible, will travel’”.
John summed it up by saying: “This priest seems to have plenty to do in regard to his reduced or ‘Lesser Duties”.
“He’s always been there through thick and thin. Even with the pressures of his ministry at the retirement village, he can still look after our needs and joins us at times,” according to Kay, who was a long-term member of the Caringbah Parish Finance Committee.
“I don’t think I would have become a Catholic without him,” she says and reflects that he had ministered to her Protestant mother who had come to love him, and upon Kay’s conversion was proud to tell her: “They’ve got you at last”.
Considering the strong positive comments that were made about his continuing work in retirement, Mgr Kerry Bayada said he found the observations: “Very humbling.”
“Jesus had reached out to people during his life on earth and I am trying to do just that,” he said – and those who are being enriched by the blessings of his continuing ministry remain most grateful.