George Town Parish farewells beloved friar

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George Town Parish farewells beloved friar

After 15 years as a much-loved pastor in northern Tasmania, Fr Edward Zammit OFM has retired.

Fr Edward, 77, who celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination in 2017, said he loved George Town and described it as ‘heaven on earth’.

Parishioners spoke warmly of his care and compassion as he was farewelled with a Mass of Thanksgiving and a barbecue lunch at George Town on December 15; a celebratory assembly with Star of the Sea College staff, students and families on December 17; and Mass at Lilydale on December 22.

At the George Town Mass, Archbishop Julian thanked Fr Edward for his years of service and his selfless contribution to the parish.
“I know you love him very much and you are deeply appreciative of the wonderful service he has rendered you,” Archbishop Julian told parishioners.

“Fr Edward is a man of few words about himself, but we know what is in his heart, what has inspired his service here in the parish. He does carry with him the spirit of St Francis of Assisi – that humility, that simplicity, that deep sense of quiet service. He will miss George Town, and George Town will miss him.”

Fr Edward lived in Malta until his late 20s. His family was part of a mission project that supported Third World seminarians. Growing up, he heard about these seminarians in far-off lands and it inspired his desire to become a priest.

“My interest about mission seminarians became a desire to become a priest. As years passed by, God made it His Calling and as I matured spiritually, His Calling became God’s Will for me. With the help of my family and many others I answered Yes to God’s call,” he said.

Fr Edward is from the Order of Friars Minor, founded by St Francis of Assisi.

Ordained in Malta in 1967, he has served as a priest in Malta, in Italy, Canada, and Australia.

In Australia, he has served as assistant priest in the Parish of Lockleys, Adelaide; as a chaplain for the Australian regular army for six years in Wagga Wagga and Sydney; and then parish priest at Lockleys, and chaplain to the Maltese Community. In Tasmania, he served in Riverside before his appointment to George Town.

Fr Ed said he would miss George Town Parish.

“I would like to thank everybody, especially my doctor. He kept me alive,” he said as laughter rang out in the church on the banks of the Tamar River.

“I thank God for the friendship and for the hospitality that you have shown to me, and also the co-operation, help and support in the parish and in the school [Star of the Sea College] and that has given me encouragement to serve always; to follow Jesus to serve the people. So thank you.”

George Town Parish Pastoral Council chairman Greg Selmes thanked Fr Edward for giving great comfort, care and devotion to his parishioners.

“He has also led us with great humbleness, humility and without any complaint,” Mr Selmes said.

“It is now both a joyous and sad occasion that he has chosen to retire: sadness for us that we are losing him; joyous that we know his retirement is well-earned for the service he has given to both us and the other communities in which he has served over many years.”

At the time of his parish farewell, Fr Edward said he was unsure if his retirement would be spent in Malta or in Australia.

Fr Bala Antonyraj CPPS replaces Fr Ed as Administrator of George Town Parish from February 17.