King Island Catholic parishioners are looking forward to welcoming Deacon Michael Smith and his wife Christine, from the Kingston-Channel Parish, to the island this Christmas.
Deacon Smith will lead three communion services at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at Currie.
“I have never been to King Island, although I was born on Bruny Island,” Deacon Smith said.
“It will be a new experience for us and for King Island. The chance to allow King Island to have some sort of Christmas liturgy is a very important thing to do.
“This is an opportunity for me to take the word of God to King Island and to show them they are part of Tasmania and of the Archdiocese. That is what we signed up to do, and I include my wife in that.”
Deacon Smith said he was also looking forward to meeting the islanders, and to explaining his role as a permanent deacon.
“It is an opportunity to give thanks for Christmas through, and with, the Church,” Deacon Smith added.
The King Island Parish is administered by Circular Head parish. Current parish administrator Fr Crisanto Mendoza (MLCC) is a welcome regular presence on the island. Fr Crisanto celebrates evening Mass on the first Sunday of every month, and then morning Mass on the following Monday and Tuesday, but at Christmas he celebrates Mass in the Circular Head Parish, which includes Smithton and Stanley.
For a number of years, Fr Theo Rush OFM, a Franciscan priest based in Melbourne, had flown to the island off the North West Coast to help the small but vibrant Catholic community celebrate Mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Fr Theo, a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor for 73 years and a priest for 67 years, died in May at the age of 91.
King Island Catholic Parish Council Chairperson Anna De La Rue, of Nugara, explained: “Fr Theo would come any time we were short of a priest.
“He came most Christmases. We all loved him and he loved coming here. He was a very spiritual, gentle man.”
Ms De La Rue said the islanders were a small, close knit community who support each other well. A handful of trained parishioners give the Liturgy of the Word on weeks when Fr Crisanto does not visit.
Among the usual Christmas traditions on King Island is a Carols event in the town hall, put on by the Catholic, Uniting and Anglican Churches, but that is not taking place this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Deacon Smith will lead three communion services, at 10am on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and December 27, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at Currie.
Main image: King Island Parishioners will welcome Deacon Michael Smith and his wife Christine to the parish at Christmas.