By Matthew Lau
After 15 years of serving the Whitford Parish faithful, Fr Joseph Tran has bid adieu to a community he holds dear to his heart.
Nearly 2000 lay faithful from Our Lady of the Mission Church turned out on Saturday 10 February to give Fr Tran the send-off he deserved.
Adding to a real sense of community that the Whitford Parish embodies, the farewell was packed with family-friendly activities, followed by a Mass of Thanksgiving that evening.
A shared dinner was held on the oval, with the theme “Four Corners of the World” to represent the dynamic of the parish.
Speaking in reflection of the day, Fr Tran said he was “overwhelmed by the love”.
“The Church was packed, it felt like Christmas. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“[After] the past 15 years, all I wanted to do was celebrate and spend a fun day with the young families of the parish.”
During his homily, Fr Tran acknowledged the priests who came before him at Whitford Parish.
Parish Council Chairperson Lisa Mooney, was part of the committee who organised the farewell.
During her appreciation speech at the end of Mass, Ms Mooney described Fr Tran as “a shining light, a beacon”.
“Father [Joe] is a man of the people. He is not up on some lofty pulpit, out of reach. But he is down here on a level with us. He walks with us and shares our everyday lives with us, not just as a priest but as a friend, a companion, a guide. He gives his time freely to us and never says ‘No’,” Ms Mooney said.
“We will miss you and often think of all the fun times we have had together – as your wonderful sense of humour has always been a joy to us. With heavy hearts, we let you go, as we know you are needed elsewhere.”
Parishioner Carmen Ip said Fr Tran is “incredibly humble and selfless”. “Because of Fr Joe, [Our Lady of the Mission] is a vibrant parish,” she said.
Fr Tran’s fondest memory during his time at Whitford Parish was World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, where he led 170 young people to the event.
“That was really amazing experience. Many fond memories of the parish will go with me,” Fr Tran said.
Fr Joseph Tran has been appointed Parish Priest of St Francis Xavier, Armadale Parish.