A year filled with joy for new priest

By Wendy Shaw

Fr Jessie Banez has reflected on the joy he has experienced in his first year of priesthood.

Fr Banez, 45, was ordained at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart on 9 April, 2021.

Since then he served in the Cathedral Parish in Hobart for nine months, while supplying Masses in the Midlands, and has been an assistant priest in the Launceston Parish for the past four months.

“I am still in the ‘honeymoon period’ as a new priest,” Fr Banez said with a smile.

“Everything is new and exciting and being in a parish is very rewarding – getting to know people and becoming involved in their lives.”

Fr Jessie marked his first anniversary of ordination with Mass at the Carmelite Monastery in
West Launceston with Launceston parish priest Fr Mark Freeman, fellow assistant priest Fr Chathura Silva and Moonah-Lutana parish priest Fr Krish Mathavan MSC.

As he reflected on an eventful and rewarding past year, Fr Banez said he continued to find great joy in his role as a priest.

Launceston Parish assistant priest Fr Jessie Banez reflects on a happy first year in the priesthood. Photo by Wendy Shaw.

“The love of God is manifested as the love of the people,” he said from the Launceston Catholic Parish office, in the shadow of the historic Church of the Apostles.

“I find that very evident here and in every parish… This is the sign that God is calling me to this life.

“I experience the love of the people, which is also the love of God. I am very happy with that.”

Fr Banez expressed gratitude to Fr Mark Freeman and former Sandy Bay priest Fr Brian Nichols for their mentoring and guidance. Fr Banez was based in Sandy Bay for some time in the latter part of his seminary studies.

“I am very thankful for Fr Mark’s patience and guidance and his knowledge and experience,” Fr Banez said.

“Fr Brian was a good mentor, in terms of knowing the liturgy. I also learned a lot from him about the pastoral aspect of the parish, caring for the people.”

Fr Banez was born in the Philippines and desired to join the priesthood from an early age. He spent time at university, military school and working with street children before starting seminary studies in Manila.

He came to Tasmania at the end of 2016, after accepting an invitation from Archbishop Julian to become a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Hobart. He was ordained a deacon in September 2020 and then a priest in April 2021.

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