When Father Brendan Quirk is farewelled at a con-celebrated Mass this Sunday at St Joseph’s Church, Rockdale he won’t just be saying goodbye to hundreds of his parishioners but also his hometown.
Father Brendan has been Parish Priest to the Catholic communities of Arncliffe, Bexley and Rockdale for almost 16 years.
He is also St George born and bred.
His parents, William and Patricia, were married at St Francis Xavier Catholic Church at Arncliffe.
Father Brendan was an altar boy at St Joseph’s, Rockdale and performed his first mass at the church as an ordained priest in 1994.
Five generations of Father Brendan’s family have lived in the local area since 1900 and nearly all of his six siblings live in the St George area.
With this history, it is no surprise that he is a passionate supporter of St George Dragons.
His father, William was president of Rockdale RSL and Father Brendan has participated in the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Rockdale for many years.
But the time has come for him to move on.
“The Archbishop believes everybody should move on every 12 years,” Father Brendan said.
“My time here as come to a natural end and I thought where should I take my priestly talents.
“Someone mentioned that there was a great need for Chaplains in the army so I applied.
“Ive been posted to the 2nd/14th Light Horse Cavalry, one of the oldest units in Australia, formed in the 1850s, and which nowadays is for light armoured vehicles.”
Father Brendan was ordained at St Mary’s Cathedral in 1994 celebrated his first mass the next day at St Joseph’s, Rockdale.
He was based in Liverpool for a while and came back to the St George area almost 16 years ago to look after the parishes of Rockdale, Arncliffe and Bexley.
“In 2008 we formally merged the parishes of Arncliffe and Rockdale which became the parish of St Mary MacKillop’s Rockdale City,” he said.
“In 2014 Bexley was twinned with St Mary MacKillop’s.”
He was appointed Parish Priest of St Gabriel’s Parish, Bexley in January 2014 and has provided ongoing support and leadership to the Catholic primary schools at Arncliffe, Bexley and Rockdale, as we as Marist College Kogarah and Bethany College Hurstville.
In 2016 he helped the community celebrate 125 years of St Joseph’s Church.
But it is not only the church he has been involved with. He has also taken up community causes, speaking out in support of Bexley Pool, the new Rockdale Library and representing the community’s concerns about the State Government’s plans for increased density along the Princes Highway Rockdale.
Father Brendan said what he will miss most about the St George area is the multicultural diversity.
“I love the diversity of cultures,” he said. “They are the most down-to-earth, good-hearted people trying to live a good, moral and faith-filled lives.
“The spirit of interfaith here really makes for a much more harmonious society.
“And I will also miss being close to Jubilee Oval, the home ground of the Dragons.”