Fr Greg Returns Home After 27 Years As a Missionary

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
18 Jun 2018

St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church at Ryde was filled to capacity, with parishioners and visitors spilling out into the overflow area outside the beautiful sandstone church, for last Sunday morning's installation of Father Greg Morgan FMVD as Parish Priest of Ryde-Gladesville parish.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP celebrated the Mass in which the parish was officially entrusted to Father Greg and the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity.

Father Greg grew up in Carramar, the youngest of six brothers and with a younger sister.  He attended Sacred Heart Primary School, Villawood and Patrician Brothers College Fairfield.  He obtained his Bachelor of Commerce from UNSW and worked as a trainee auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers before hearing God's call on Villawood Station back in 1986 and heading off to Spain, "on a hunch" that the Lord might be calling him to become a missionary priest.

Father Greg studied for the priesthood in Loeches, Spain and Dublin, Ireland, and was ordained a priest of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lluc in Mallorca on 13 August 1995.  He went on to study towards a Licentiate of Mission Studies at the Pontifical Urbania University in Rome, but had to end the studies when he was appointed Vice Superior of the Male Branch of Verbum Dei and General Administrator for the fraternity.

Father Greg returned to Australia in 2013 after spending 27 years in various foreign missions in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, the Philippines, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland and the USA. 

In his homily, Archbishop Fisher praised the vibrancy of the Ryde-Gladesville parish community, but cautioned them against complacency.  "Fr Greg inherits a parish that demonstrates they are Christ's family in its ministries," he said.  "Liturgical ministries such as servers, musicians and readers, wardens and welcomers; sacramental ministries such as baptism or marriage prep, catechists or Lenten groups, RCIA or healing Masses; outreach ministries such as CWL, Justice and Peace, Spark, SVdP, Home Communion and Seniors Ministry; ministries to the young, such as schools, children's family educators, Ignite and more."

While there were many causes for celebration, the Archbishop said, there was also a 'gap' in the parish, because of the ten thousand or so Catholics in Ryde-Gladesville, around 1400 attended Mass regularly.  "We thank God you do; we recognise this is a better strike rate than in many places; but we ache for the missing 8,000 or so," he said, before issuing this challenge: " We must ask ourselves, again and again, how we can best reach out to the unconverted and the diverted, and make this the sort of place they will want to be on Sunday."

Father Greg began his words of thanks by thanking "the Lord Who called me on Villawood Station 32 years ago."  "I'm from this Archdiocese," Father Greg said, "I was raised here; I was taught here; my faith was brought by people who are amongst you today." Specifically, he acknowledged Ray and Maria, the parent couple from Antioch in Revesby, who nurtured his faith so many years ago.

He thanked Archbishop Fisher for the confidence he showed him in entrusting the parish to a 'rookie' like him, and to the parishioners who had welcomed him so much.  "We are here to serve you; you are now our family," he said.

But he also asked for their help. 

"You are my parish and yes, I'm here for you; I'm here to serve... but I cannot do it alone; it's too big a parish... we mustn't be complacent, as His Grace said.  We mustn't be complacent.  There's room for everyone.  I want for everyone in this parish to have a mission."

Finally, invoking the intercession of parish patron, St Charles Borromeo and Our Lady, he invited the parishioners to join him in taking up the "noble work" of building up the kingdom of heaven, starting in Ryde!