YOUTH MATTERS: Vale Fr Terry Yard – “Make Your Life a Prayer”

By Sam Clear, Director of the Office of Youth Evangelisation

Fr Terry Yard was the first priest I ever connected with. He engaged the then teenage me in conversation after Mass in such a way that I would walk away feeling encouraged and supported.

Fr Terry was the Parish Priest at the Church of the Apostles in Launceston while I was studying at the university there. I’d attend Sunday night Mass with one of my cricketing mates, often after we’d played, and Fr Terry would make light of the fact that these two local lads were sitting together at the back like two naughty school boys.

He wasn’t far off either; our sneaky conversations were more often about his radio voice and what documentaries he should narrate, more than they were about the depth of the Gospel he’d just read.

Fr Terry encouraged me to serve with him on the hospital visitation team – a pivotal moment in my faith journey – but it was one conversation that had the greatest impact.

As a child, I thought that priests went out into the sacristy, a room children dared not tread, in order to converse with God, then came out to tell the rest of us what God wanted. That childhood view hadn’t grown much by the time I was in my late teens.

One Sunday evening I plucked up the courage after Mass to tackle my bewilderment surrounding prayer. I asked Fr Terry, “How do you pray? What do you do?” In those dulcet tones he responded, “Well Sam… I get up every morning and before I do anything I do the sign of the cross and pray the prayers of the church (the Divine Office), but at the end, I don’t do the sign of the cross again. I leave my prayer open-ended and I won’t do the sign of the cross again to close that prayer until I’ve done night prayer that evening and I’m heading to bed. I make my whole day a prayer. That way, if during the day I walk past a woman who looks upset I’ll just quietly pray, ‘Lord, please help her. Please bless her with joy this day.’ And then, I might walk past a nice palm tree and say, ‘Lord, nice tree! I like what you’ve done with that palm tree.’ That way, my whole day becomes a constant prayer with God.”

His honest answer reshaped my prayer and brought consistency to my walk with God. May he rest in peace, and I pray that he is with the angels and the Saints continuing to pray for each of us and giving glory to God for the beauty of each life.

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