West Tamar Parishioners shared bitter-sweet feelings on Sunday as they farewelled Father Allan Hartcher ofm and Sister Frances McShane mss. With the acknowledgement of the gentle spirit of holiness and pastoral strength possessed by these co-workers in the service of the Kingdom, there was sorrow to see them go, but also wishes for a happy retirement for both of them.
Sister Frances, who is retiring after living in Beaconsfield for the past ten years, was remembered as a shepherdess who had qualities of both a Martha and a Mary. While ‘holding the Christ light for us’ she was also the ‘queen of the car boot sale’ and raised many thousands of dollars for the Parish. She is retiring to Claremont in January.
After five years in the parish, Fr Allan will begin his retirement in Waverley New South Wales in January. He is loved for his generous gentle spirit, for his prayer and preaching and his deep love of music. He is a humble man of many talents who has ministered in Riverside, Beaconsfield and Glengarry. The Parish is most grateful for him coming to them in 2008 when it was feared there would be no more Franciscans available.
There has been a Franciscan presence in Riverside for nearly 58 years. The order is now withdrawing from the Archdiocese and Fr Paul Smith ofm officially handed over control of the Parish to the Archbishop at the end of the Mass. There have been 51 Franciscan priests and brothers over the 58 years.
The farewell to the Franciscans took place most appropriately in the Assisi Centre at St Anthony’s Catholic School in Riverside.
The school, initially run by the Presentation Order, opened in 1959. Not long after, in 1961, the Franciscan connection was complete when the Poor Clare Sisters arrived to take care of the school until the end of 1972. The school has a long history of pastoral care by the Franciscan Friars - priests and brothers alike. The school’s Mission statement encompasses Franciscan spirituality and the more recently enlarged multi-purpose Hall has now been named the Assisi Centre with its Franciscan motto “To walk in the footsteps of Christ”. Fr Allan has been a wonderful influence on developing the Christian spirituality of the students and celebrated Mass every week in the Assisi Centre for them. The Franciscan legacy is sure to live on through both the Parish and school community.
To help the work of the Franciscans, the parishioners and school children have held a monthly stall to raise money for their East Timor Missions. This year the stall raised $2000.00. As a small way of saying ‘thank you’ for the many years of service, the Parish has doubled the amount raised and presented the cheque for $4000.00 to Fr Paul.