Fond memories from busy parish role

Departing parish secretary Annie Davies has looked back with fondness on her time at Mersey-Leven Parish as she prepares to start a new chapter in her life.

Annie, of Ulverstone, began at the bustling North West parish office in 2008, after she moved across the road from her previous job as a teacher aide at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary School.

A practising Catholic, married to husband Sam for 34 years, a mother of four and grandmother of one, Annie is known for her warm and generous nature and care and kindness with priests and parishioners alike.

During her time as parish secretary, Annie worked with Fr Jim McMahon, Fr Mark Freeman, Fr John Girdauskas, Fr Felix Ekeh, Fr Augustin Ezenwelu, Fr Alex Obiorah, Fr Mike Delaney, Fr Steven Smith, Fr Phil McCormack and Fr Jaison Kuzhiyil.

“All the priests have had different personalities and been great to work with,” she said. “Despite the highs and lows, I’ve loved it and it’s been a great job.”

Annie also mentioned seminarian Kanishka Perera, “a delightful person who will make a wonderful priest,” and Sr Carmel Jones (Sisters of St Joseph) and Belinda Chapman, “beautiful, kind, nurturing and giving people,” who were previously based in the parish in sacramental coordination roles.

“How blessed I was to cross their paths,” Annie said. “I am privileged to have met them and they are truly inspirational.”

Annie has a treasure trove of golden memories from her time at the parish office, which is in the presbytery at Devonport. Fr John Girdauskaus had two pet dogs during his tenure and Annie would throw balls for them while carrying on with her work. On one unforgettable occasion, she threw a ball for the dogs without looking and inadvertently pelted a visiting (now Emeritus) Archbishop Adrian Doyle in the shins!

The role of Mersey-Leven Parish secretary can involve everything from ordering wine and candles for the six Mass centres to helping people with baptisms, weddings and funerals, dealing with tradies, running the office, compiling newsletters and working alongside the other “lovely” parish staff members and helpers.

“We have so many special people out there who are so strong in their faith,” Annie added.

“The COVID pandemic has really opened my eyes to the importance of touching base with our parishioners. Praying is important but attending Mass is also a social outing and when that was cut off, many were lonely. When I had a minute to spare, I would ring them to chat. It is things like that I loved.

“l have made so many friends in this role – friends for life.” 

Tags: Mersey-Leven, News, Northern Deanery