28 July 2017 » Home > The Lunjevich Years
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THE LUNJEVICH YEARS

In 1973 Father Murray was transferred to Fairfield where he remained for ten years before going to Te Awamutu. After a brief period of three years there he passed away in his early fifties. The next priest we welcomed to St Therese was Father Ivan Lunjevich who came as an administrator. Clearly Father Rodgers' health was still indifferent. Father Lunjevich had recently spent some time in Split to refresh his Serbo-Croatian and after six months at Meadowbank joined the Three Kings parish. He was a tall man with a dark shock of hair and a rich voice. Arthur Cole was chairman of the parish council at that time and it was a particular pleasure for Arthur to have the opportunity of working with his former classmate, the new priest. He set about teaching the parishioners to sing the Our Father in English and his patience paid handsome dividends. Parishioners well remember his placing a personal exquisite icon, which he had brought back from Dalmatia, in the sanctuary for general veneration. He was a popular priest and worked well with Father Joe. However after eighteen months the parish of Tuakau became vacant, and Father Lunjevich was transferred to his next parish.

Father Ron McKendry spent a short time in the parish. He was suffering from terminal cancer at the time, but managed to pursue his great interest in music. He produced a superb song which he entitled "April Wine" which is a lasting testimony to his faith and courage in combatting his fatal sickness.

Father Keating also spent a short time in the parish. Having a late vocation he entered the All Hallows Seminary in Dublin and after his ordination came to NZ where he served for two decades. He was parish priest in Takapuna, Remuera, and Hamilton East before coming to our parish. He was an enthusiast for golf and bridge. He had a great devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Consequently he was spiritual director to the Legion of Mary. On leaving Three Kings Father Keating went to Huntly. He suffered very indifferent health and passed away in 1989.

Both these men are remembered with affection and sadness because their poor health shortened promising careers in the clergy.

Another priest who stayed briefly in the parish about this time was Father Frank O'Regan. He had a ready ear and a soothing word for troubled parishioners. When visiting his flock he frequently dropped in on the bus drivers at the ARA depot in May Road and was instrumental in deepening their faith. He left for Kopeopeo, on the outskirts of Whakatane, which was a fast growing parish. Its school is staffed by the Josephite Sisters and over the years a number of our own parish Sisters have spent teaching years at Whakatane.
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