Crookwell’s Bryan Kennedy celebrates 40 years as an acolyte
Sunday July 28 marked another birthday and the end of Bryan Kennedy’s forty active years of service to the Catholic Church as an active acolyte. He remains an acolyte but has removed himself from the active commitment of the roster.
Forty years ago, each Parish Priest in the Canberra Goulburn Diocese was asked to supply the name of a man to take on the role of acolyte. Crookwell was to supply two: Father Fitzgerald nominated Jack Nagle and Bryan Kennedy.
Each Friday evening, during winter, they travelled to Canberra to complete their course of study. This was no mean feat as it meant traversing the old highway along Lake George with the ski traffic.
Bryan had the additional difficulty of having a business to run. Credit has to be given to his sister in law Jennifer Cummins who stepped forward and assisted Dorothy in the shop.
Bryan will always tell you that he cannot do any of these things without the support of his wife Dorothy and I have watched her reschedule plans many times over the past 40 years to allow him to take up this role. This year also marks their 60 years of marriage.
Perhaps Father Fitzgerald’s choice of Jack and Bryan was more canny or even more frugal than most realised. They were the same size which became apparent when they went for a fitting for robes. It turned out Father Fitzgerald was not impressed with the robes when they arrived. He had tried them on and thought they were far too small! Jack and Bryan managed to remove them from his head without causing any damage.
Those robes continue to be used today. Bryan was fortunate in having his cousin Philo Laws quickly realise another set was needed and she made him his own. I have no idea how she came up with a pattern.
There was no announcement made in the church that acolytes would be commencing duties. Bryan was first to commence. He went out on to the altar on Saturday night and assisted in the Mass. The comment after Mass was “I had no idea how alike Father Bill Kennedy and Bryan [they are brothers] were until Bill came on to the altar tonight”. It wasn’t the last time the comment was made.
There have been many memorable moments over the years. Bryan has assisted during many important moments and ceremonies from an enormous Papal Mass in Canberra, to stepping in to capably assist with Communion Services in his brother Bill’s parish in O’Connor when Bill was so brutally bashed (this had the bonus of migrant parishioners bearing great food), to honouring and farewelling those he was so fond of, and to quietly providing communion in the homes of members of his community.
Bryan was assisting his friend Rev Peter Murphy when he collapsed and was unable to continue as usual one Saturday night. He stepped in combining his acolyte duties with his considerable first aid training and experience and assisted to finish the Mass before getting his good mate into an ambulance and off to hospital.
With other parish stalwarts he reorganised all the weekend’s parish activities and stood in for Rev Murphy on Sunday at Tuena. Again, the voice from the pews was heard to comment on how much Father Bill looked like Bryan.
It soon became apparent how serious Fr Murphy’s illness was and Crookwell lost a good mate. Bryan turned down the acolyte role for the funeral and, along with his fellow acolyte Bill Rogerson, acted as usher for the funeral and then tolled the bell as the body was removed.
Bryan feels privileged and honoured to have been allowed the opportunity to serve his community as acolyte. He has continued working as acolyte with Communion Services and assisting with funerals and visiting people in their homes.