A final Father’s Day for Fr Ashton

On Father’s Day, some fathers might have wanted new socks, some a new fishing rod, others fitness equipment.

But for one Father, all he would have wanted was to be reunited with his faith family.

Fr Carl Ashton has been serving as the parish priest of Sacred Heart Parish, Mount Druitt South, for 42 years. For the past 12 weeks, he has been separated from his parish community as churches have been closed to public worship due to COVID pandemic restrictions.

This year’s celebration of Father’s Day was also to be the last year that Fr Ashton celebrated the day with his parishioners as an active priest.

He is due to retire at the end of the year after 42 years at Mt Druitt South and 59 years of ordained ministry.

“I’ve astounded myself, it’s been so long,” Fr Ashton said. “But the work has been the same all the time, trying to provide the grace of God for souls, to help them save their souls. That’s why I came here [and] I hope I’ve done that through these years.”

On Father’s Day, we are reminded of the infinite blessings we’ve been given through the caring, unconditional fatherly love and influences in our lives – our parents, grandfathers, fathers-in-law, uncles, stepfathers and foster fathers. Our spiritual fathers in our parish priests are also there for us.

The humble, selfless clergy across the Diocese of Parramatta care for our community’s spiritual nourishment and wellbeing for almost all their lives, asking little for themselves in return.

“How blessed we are to have such a beautiful and caring, wonderful person like Fr Ashton, who sacrifices all his life and is willing to give all his time and life in the service of the Lord,” Sacred Heart parishioner Cecile explains.

“I will always pray to our dear Lord, to look after Fr Ashton and to the community to extend their love and support for him and for all the other retired priests, so they can be comfortable in their retirement,” she said.

People may not realise that when their time comes to retire, many parish priests are without family to support them and assist with the everyday essentials for a comfortable retirement.

Just as family members care for their parents and forefathers, as Christians, our Diocese and faith family are responsible for supporting the wellbeing of our clergy, who have selflessly dedicated their lives in service of our Father’s Church and His people.

The Diocese’s Clergy Support Foundation provides assistance to Diocesan clergy members who have retired or who are in ill-health. They can provide accommodation, devoted practical care and guidance, health support, living essentials, transport to medical appointments and financial assistance where needed.

By donating to the Clergy Support Foundation, you can show your support for those like Fr Ashton who have cared selflessly for our faith community, but who are now in need of our assistance.

Please keep our beloved clergy, both in ministry and retired, in your prayers.

To donate to the Clergy Support Foundation Bishop’s Father’s Day Appeal for Retired Clergy, visit parracatholic.org/fathersdayappealco