It is hard to believe that Spring commences in a couple of days’ time as the recent cold snap has taken us directly back to the middle of Winter. Last week I visited the beautiful town of Murrurundi and while it was chilly, I was filled with warmth as I met Annette and Peter Leehey who are two examples of practical Christianity in action.
As members of St Joseph’s Catholic Parish in Murrurundi for the past 30 years, Annette and Peter have involved themselves in many aspects of parish and community life. Their roles have embraced many of the lay pastoral and liturgical works of their church, including Welcomer, Minister of the Word, Minister of the Eucharist, Collector, Parish Leadership Team, St Vincent de Paul Society, Fundraising, Hospitality, Mowing and ground maintenance of the Church to name just a few.
During my visit Peter recalled when three young women from Portugal stayed at the Murrurundi parish during World Youth Day in 2008. Annette and Peter showed them around the town and neighbouring locations. It was so cold on one occasion it drove Peter who I came to learn was quite a wordsmith to write a poem.
“I have travelled the country over from Bunnan to Gundy, from Merriwa to Muswellbrook and north to Murrurundi. But no matter where I travel from Bourke to Ballarat, I have never found a colder place at night than Moonan Flat.”
It is no wonder that Annette and Peter came to live in the art community of Murrurundi, Peter a poet and Annette a painter in the day.
Annette and Peter met at a dance in Bankstown, Sydney, and married at Christ the King church, Yagoona. When I heard that Annette grew up in Yagoona, my mind drifted to Ahn Do’s film, Footy Legends, the suburb where the film was set. While there are several social issues raised within the film, I believe that love, acceptance, and relationship are core themes which echo much of Annette and Peter’s life.
Annette worked for a time at Halinda Special Needs School in Whalan, near Mount Druitt and Peter spent many years in the army and being involved with the Scouts and Cubs.
Annette proudly showed me pictures on her wall of all the children that they had sponsored over the years. Some were from countries around the world, others from Australia that suffered brain injuries.
It is evident that Annette and Peter’s compassion and love for each other and for those in need have been central elements in their life.
The Parish of Murrurundi is so much richer for the generous involvement of Peter and Annette, as is the broader community. They are living examples of practical Christianity in action.
A special thanks to Gerard Howard of the St Joseph’s Parish who highlighted the dedication of Peter and Annette to the community of Murrurundi earlier this year.
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