November 25 will see Father Brian Carmine celebrate his final Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Stratford.
After six-and-a-half-years as the parish priest serving the Eastern Districts, Kaponga, Eltham and Stratford, he has been asked to continue his ministry in Whanganui where he will have what he terms "pastoral care of five parishes".
He says, "I will miss the rural family and community values, the honesty and the hard-working ethic of the Central Taranaki people".
He estimates he has presided over 2000 masses and more than 60 weddings while in Stratford, saying "as a priest these days we have to meet people where they are".
Father Brian's uncle, Father Eugene Carmine, was also a priest serving in Stratford. Father Brian says; "I came across a chalice one day, and there it was, my uncle's name engraved on the base". Describing this as "a nice little link", Father Brian says that family is important to him, saying his sisters "are good for advice" while his nine nieces and nephews "call it as they see it".
Talking of his role as parish priest for St Patrick's in Kaponga as well as Stratford's St Joseph's, he says, "the schools ground me" adding that, "I would hate to be sent to a parish where there wasn't a school".
The students of St Joseph's and their families celebrated a special Mass with Father Brian on November 11, and during the service each class presented Father Brian with some special gifts. These ranged from "letters of love" written by students to a giant soccer ball; recognising his role as their "unofficial coach" who was always "on the sidelines at all the kids' sports in the weekend". School principal Rae Sullivan-Brown presented him with a 'principal's award' recognising his many contributions to school life.
Father Brian came to Stratford from serving as an assistant priest in Whanganui and he says he is looking forward to "taking the things I have learned from Stratford to Whanganui and to re-establishing some of the contacts I have had in Whanganui.