“How Great Thou Art!”
This evening at about 8.10 p.m. many of the people who remembered what Fr Patrick had been for them came to St Bernadette’s Church for a memorial Mass. Fr Alfred Chan kindly consented to celebrate the Mass for us. The Mass began with the hymn ‘How great thou art” and the lyrics of that hymn really meant so much more tonight. Indeed we serve a mighty God, a God of power, a God of love!
The MOSO bamboo
When Fr Alfred preached to us the homily he mentioned an interesting ‘tree’ called the moso bamboo. This ‘tree’ apparently will not show its growth above ground in spite of ideal growth conditions until five years of nurturing and caring by the gardener. Then the ‘tree’ will grow very fast, at the rate of at least two and a half feet per day. It can then reach a height of at least ninety feet in a matter of six weeks. All the while, though, when nothing seems to be happening, the roots are finding their way deep into the soil.
Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies…it remains but a single seed.
This sharing by Fr was prompted by the Gospel reading from John where it is said that unless a seed falls to the ground it will remain a single seed. I was fascinated by the sharing on the moso bamboo, as it makes me think of the way a person’s spiritual could well be. A lot of time is spent in silence, so to speak, and one’s life is quite hidden. Formation and preparation go hand in hand and one day, in God’s time, one bursts forth with great enthusiasm into ministry. Then, with one’s hand on the plough, one gives all without a glance backwards for the one whose hand is on the plough need only to move ahead. Talk about laying a firm foundation, and we do have our Lord, Christ Jesus. Praise him!
Called to serve His Divine Majesty
The second part focussed on the late Fr Patrick Hallinan who was born in Ireland on 13 September 1920. At the age of six, one of his teachers asked him what he intended to do when he grew up and without hesitation, he had replied that he wanted to be a priest. The Lord heard him and called him to the priesthood. He served for more than sixty years, faithful to the end when he was called home peacefully on Easter Sunday 12 April 2009.
Out in the Mission Fields
Fr Patrick was ordained on 8 June 1947 and at the age of 27, he was sent to New South Wales, Australia where he served for six years. Then he was sent as a Missionary priest to Papua New Guinea and there he remained for the next twenty years. As a Missionary priest, he had to forego all that he had and start anew in a land with a different culture, language and people. It was a rough road that he had been asked to take, living in the midst of strangers whose confidence he eventually gained. The going was tough as he had to adapt to the climate and the food as well. But his missionary zeal overlooked all that. Fr Patrick loved his priesthood. He loved the Lord. He loved our Lady.
Under His Protection Always
It was said that he was almost roasted alive on one occasion but the grace of God stopped that from happening. With time he won the natives over and eventually he saw to the grooming of bishops and priests in that mission land.
Good and faithful servant
When his time was up after serving in the mission fields for twenty challenging years, Fr Patrick returned to Ireland but it was not for long. Australia still needed him and he went back for several more years. He received his appointment to be a Parish Priest in Newcastle in 1974. He laboured till his official retirement in 1988. Those of us who know him praise God for the passion with which he served and we know that he never really retired. He served till the end.
Love for our Lady and the Holy Rosary
Fr Patrick was ever hopeful. His top priority was to serve the people of God and for him, to see the face of God’s people was to see God himself. To love God’s people was to love God himself, and he had a special love for all of us in Singapore. He came time and again to give talks, to pray the rosary and to spread devotion to our Lady. In his old age, he never stopped praying the rosary for peace in his homeland Ireland and in the world. He never stopped praying for all those whom God placed in his life.
Mary, pray for us!
We can be sure that he is interceding for us all together with our Blessed Mother. How many were the pilgrimages he had led to many of the Marian apparition sites! How many had been the times when his lips and his heart prayed “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Thanks be to God
I thank God for the gift of this priest. I thank God for all the Masses he offered for me and my intentions and I thank God for the grace to have been present this evening to rejoice in the Homecoming of one of God’s chosen ones, a priest after the heart of Christ and His Blessed Mother. As I left the Church of St Bernadette with two deep red roses in my hands, my heart was still singing the hymn of praise to our Blessed Mother ‘Praise Her with a Flower’. Yes, we thank God for our Mother who has a special love for all her priest sons including the late Fr Patrick Hallinan.