100 reasons to celebrate for much-loved Devonport parishioner

Family, friends and parishioners gathered at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Devonport to help Les Enniss celebrate his 100th birthday.

Mr Enniss has been active in the Catholic Church over many years and is highly respected and well loved by his family, his parish and the wider community.

He served as an acolyte for 30 years, a role he carried out until he was 96. He was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for more than 40 years, a warm and welcoming long-term greeter at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, president of the Holy Name Society, president of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School parents and friends, a member of the Knights of the Southern Cross who previously honoured him with a plaque in recognition of 50 years of service, and a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society. He was also an active and enthusiastic member of the Lions’ Club and Devonport Football Club.

Mr Enniss is a father of four, grandfather of 12 and great-grandfather of 15.

His son, Murray, described his father as a man of deep faith.

“He was always helping out and being part of the community,” he said.

“It was important to him to serve others through service to the Church. He is still very much [active in his faith], praying the rosary a couple of times a day and [maintaining] his great belief in his God.”

Mr Enniss was born in North West Tasmania and spent his early years growing up on a dairy farm at Montagu. He moved to Launceston as a teenager and served in the Army and then worked as a train driver. He was happily married to Audrey (nee Smith) from 1946 until her death 28 years later. The family moved to Bundaberg, Queensland, in the 1950s after they bought a partnership in a sugar cane farm. Later, Mr Enniss worked in furniture shops in Launceston and then Devonport, where he was manager of the Paterson’s store.

“It is amazing that he has been able to lead such an interesting life, and I am very proud of him,” Murray Enniss added.

Les Enniss cutting his birthday cake at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Devonport with his daughter, Joy Bennet, who is also a parishioner. Photo: Toni Muir.

The Mersey Leven Parish marked Mr Enniss’s birthday on February 9 with Mass for about 100 people at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, followed by morning tea and birthday cake. Launceston parish priest Fr Mark Freeman concelebrated Mass with a number of other priests from around Tasmania who had previously served in the sprawling North West Coast parish, at the invitation of the newly-arrived Mersey Leven administrator Fr Jaison Kuzhiyil.

Fr Mark said: “Les Enniss is a really good man.

“He devoted himself to the parish and to supporting the priests in all the different aspects of his work, and to assisting at funerals. He had a large Communion round that he did himself and that he would take us [the priests] on occasionally.

“Mr Enniss was a tremendous help to us, and would take us under his wing and guide us. This is a person who has devoted his life to supporting the life of the Church, and he did it marvellously well.”

Mersey Leven parishioner Tony Muir was installed as an acolyte at the same time as Les Enniss and Mr Muir continues to take Communion to Mr Enniss at his nursing home every Sunday.

Mr Muir described Mr Enniss as a man of great faith who would do anything for anyone.

“He worked with many priests [over the years] and always got along well with them and worked in well with them,” Mr Muir said.

“It was sad for everyone when he had to stop [taking such an active role in the parish]. He was larger than life: a very welcoming character, a great bloke, very faith-filled and well respected in the community.”

Centenarian Les Enniss (seated), with (back, from left) son Murray Enniss, granddaughter Angela Bennett, son Gerard Enniss, daughter Joy Bennett, Joy’s husband, Gerald Bennett, and (front) great-grandsons Oliver Bennett and Hudson Bennett. Photo by Toni Muir.

Mr Enniss’s nephew, Fr David Ranson, who is Vicar General of the Diocese of Double Bay, visited Mr Enniss in Devonport later in the week.

Another birthday function was held for Mr Enniss at Devonport Football Club on February 13 when the centenarian received birthday greetings from the Queen.

Mersey Leven Catholic Parish also congratulated Mr Enniss on his centenary in the weekly parish newsletter: “Mersey Leven Parishioners honour you, Les, for your faithful commitment to our Parish over many years as an acolyte, taking communion to the sick, life member of the Knights of the Southern Cross, and in so many other ways [that] you have dedicated your time to our Parish. As a family man, friend and mentor you have inspired us. We wish you health, happiness and joy as you reach this amazing milestone. May God bless you and keep you. May God’s face shine on you and be gracious to you. May God give you peace (Numbers 6: 24-26).”

Main image: Les Enniss (front, seated), of Devonport, on his 100th birthday, with (from left) Fr John Girdauskas, of Burnie, Fr Richard Ross, of Bellerive, acolyte Tony Muir, of Devonport, Fr Mark Freeman, of Launceston, and Fr Jaison Kuzhiyil and Fr Phillip McCormack, both of Devonport, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. Photo by Jan Tuxworth.

Tags: acolyte, Mersey-Leven, News, Northern Deanery, parishioner