Page 1821 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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Father Lynch arrived in Australia in 1947, and I really do wonder whether any in the Irish church actually appreciated what a valuable export they were making to Australia for no reward for them but enormous reward for us. Father Lynch brought with him a variety of resources—spiritual, ecclesiastical, practical, social and others—none of which had then been fully developed. But years of hard work and dedication to the tasks to which he put his hand honed these resources to a fine pitch.

Father Lynch began his priestly life in this country as an assistant priest at Goulburn. In 1948 he was transferred to Crookwell. Father claims that it was in Crookwell he learnt, amongst other things, to transfer from the Irish game of hurling to the Aussie version of hockey. In 1949, when he was only 28, the bishop then appointed Father Lynch to be the inspector of Catholic schools in the diocese.

Father Lynch then moved to Canberra in 1954. At that time, apparently there were only three Catholic churches in Canberra—St Christophers, St Marys in Civic, which was then called St Patricks, and a somewhat makeshift church in the Causeway. Most of the churches and the masses were at that stage celebrated in halls where arrangements could be made for them. It was into this developing church in this developing city that the young Father Lynch, at that stage only 33, came to exercise what talents he had.

He was a man of conviction but not only on the spiritual front; in that life he not only worked as a parish priest but he established the first praesidium of the Legion of Mary. On the social front, he established a Marian club, a social club for young Catholics, and then had the ability to convince the manager of the Hotel Canberra to allocate them a room in which to meet once a month, which I think is pretty extraordinary.

He then got involved in sport. Hockey being his sport, he actually was the founder of St Patricks hockey club. Apart from all of those organisations, he was also working as the assistant parish priest in Yarralumla. Whilst at Yarralumla, Father Lynch also introduced the Cursillo movement to Canberra as a movement for young people.

In 1965, Father Lynch was appointed the family and parish priest of Holy Trinity Church in Curtin. He set up the presbytery; he then built a new presbytery; and then he helped set up the school. He was also instrumental in then setting up the church which, at that stage, was built as a result of some very innovative fundraising which included a paper drive, which paid off the bulk of the church in quite a short time.

With a friend, Pat Pentoney, he then set up Catholic marriage guidance and social welfare as well as looking after the local conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society. Again, he did all of these things while carrying out his duties as a parish priest. In 1987, he left the parish mission and became the first priest to look after other priests in setting up the directory for the ministry priests. In 1989, Father Lynch was 68, at which stage most of us are thinking that we would retire. Instead he was appointed parish priest of Cobargo on the South Coast. He set about rejuvenating the local church there as well.

I do not have time to read all this speech. This speech was written by a Brian Donovan. I would seek leave to table this speech and have the text of it included in Hansard if members are agreeable to that.

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