I write to pay tribute to Fr Desmond Byrne, parish priest of St Francis De Sales Parish, Oak Park, for over 33 years. Unfortunately for us, he has now reached that mandatory age where he is obliged to resign his parochial duties and enjoy possibly a quieter, more mundane lifestyle in his future service to God.
In the comparatively few short years that it has been my privilege to know Fr Byrne, I have found him to be a warm, friendly man with a great sense of humour and enjoyment of life. He is also a highly educated and most articulate priest, a dedicated and totally unapologetic lover and defender of the Church and her teachings.
Totally opposed to the modernistic trend invading the Church since Vatican II and also to the inroads the fundamentalist churches have made among young Catholic school leavers over recent years, he has been deeply concerned that the younger members of his flock know and understand their religion.
To ensure they were capable of defending it when and where necessary, both inside and outside the Church, Fr Byrne founded the Confraternity of St Michael to give them an orthodox instruction in their Faith. Not only was his work successful in that regard, but I believe there have been quite a number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life granted by God to various members of that organisation.
Father has also officiated at a fairly large number of nuptial Masses over the years between members. The Confraternity has now become allied with and to the Melbourne Archdiocese's Catholic Youth Ministry.
In his love of God, Father is most concerned for the spiritual welfare of all of his parishioners. During Lent, he celebrated two Masses each day with three on a Friday, hearing confessions before and after (when necessary) each Mass.
These few lines show why Fr Byrne is held in such high repute by those who truly appreciate a man of God, humbly and obediently following out his vocation as God's priest.
A farewell Mass for Fr Byrne is to be concelebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart at St Francis de Sales Church on Sunday, 5 May, at 3.00pm.