by SUE SECONI
WANGANUI — All morning Masses across Wanganui were cancelled on
Sunday, March 30, enabling the whole Catholic community to gather for the 9am Mass to thank Esther and Tom Teasdale for what they have given to the life of St Mary’s, St Anne’s and Holy Family parishes.
Thirty-two years ago, Mrs Teasdale started work as housemaid for the
eight Society of Mary priests who lived in community in the Campbell St Presbytery.
“When a vacancy occurred in the parish office, I was offered the position,”she said.
“My last day, being last Friday [March 28], was a lovely occasion with Holy Family and St Mary’s parish staff and close friends going out to dinner,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the packed church, Gerald Lynch said that during her years as parish secretary, Mrs Teasdale has seen three popes, three diocesan bishops and nine parish priests — which gives grounds for canonisation!
“St Mary’s is one of the oldest parishes in the country, and her contribution equates to 20 per cent . . . of being part of the fabric and culture of the parish life,” he said.
Mrs Teasdale saw the building of the Te Rau Oriwa Marae and St Joseph’s Hall complex, St Mary’s parish turning 150 years old, Cullinane College being formed from the closing of St Augustine’s and Sacred Heart, St Mary’s historical presbytery being demolished
and the multi-purpose “link-building” between the marae and church constructed.
She saw her role as a ministry and not a job.
Often the first contact person for the Catholic church, Mrs Teasdale dealt with the mixtures of personalities and the variety of inquiries with respect, hospitality and prudent silence. Her
warmth and faith were central to her work ethic.
Mr Teasdale was acknowledged for his handyman “can-do” abilities in attending to the maintenance of the vast grounds and plant on this so called “Catholic block” in the cultural heart of Wanganui.
The popular couple were praised and complimented for their generosity.
With their collective knowledge from their years of experience, they will be sorely missed.
In 2001, when the Society of Mary withdrew from Wanganui and the river, Mr and Mrs Teasdale received a papal blessing.
Retirement will bring much-needed time out, jobs in and around their home and time with family and fast growing grandchildren.