Shearer to Shepherd – Fr Mark celebrates 25 Years with his flock
Well known Gungahlin identity, Fr Mark Croker returned to his home town of Taralga on Sunday to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of his ordination amongst those who formed his vocation and shaped his drive to always respond to those in need.
He was accompanied by a large contingent from Holy Spirit Parish in Gungahlin where he has spent half of the 25 years since his ordination.
Fr Mark was a late entry into the priesthood and has brought the flavour of the life he experienced as a “boy from the bush”. Life on the farm is hard work, and his brother Chris told us many humorous stories of farming with Fr Mark. There were also suspicious references to the well-known paddock parties called the “Bachelors and Spinsters Balls”.
The celebratory Mass at Taralga was held at its beautiful church, which was filled with family, friends and well-wishers. The guest of honour was the Croker Family matriarch – Fr Mark’s mother Joan Croker, who had played the organ at that same church for over 50 years. Fr Mark is also well known for his great singing and he was definitely ‘on-song’ during the Mass he concelebrated with Fr Anthony Riosa, Assistant Priest at Holy Spirit.
Fr Mark’s voice joined with the beautiful choir from Holy Spirit Parish, which led the congregation in many of the hymns he chose for his ordination. It was our first Mass without masks for a long time and another cause for celebration.
The Taralga community then hosted a loud and happy luncheon at the local sports club, a party that reflected the deep connection Fr Mark makes with all those around him. The ‘screen saver’ of photos which ran all afternoon showed his connection with so many friends and family and reminded us all of the deep generosity of a man who finally heard the call, put down his shears and took up the cloak of God’s Shepherd.
- Alison Weeks is a parishioner at Holy Spirit Parish, Gungahlin