ISLAND CATHOLIC PRIEST FATHER JIM BROWNE FINALLY CALLS IT A DAY! Father Jim Browne was ordained as a Catholic Priest at St Stephen's Cathedral on the 29th June 1965. After 57 years as an active Catholic Priest has finally called it a day. Known lovingly on our islands as ‘Father Jim’, the popular cleric is now well into his 80’s and admits ill health has finally caught up with him. The latter part of his priesthood has been with the Catholic community on our Southern Bay Islands. He has been providing church services since 1997, although his links to the islands go back to 1996 when he purchased a block of land on Macleay Island. He has also been providing two masses on Sundays as well as Holy Days, and performing other priestly functions. He has endeared himself to returned servicemen and women and has led the prayers at Dawn Services on Macleay Island for all of those years. His last Anzac Day Service was at the 2022 service earlier this year. The islands helped Father Jim celebrate his 50th anniversary as a Catholic Priest back in 2015 when the island community came together for a major celebration at the Church of the Holy Spirit on Macleay Island. In his latter years of involvement with the islands, Father Browne has etched himself into the memory and minds of many islanders because of his community spirit and dedication to the church and his beliefs. He is in the truest sense, the epitome of the traditional holy and caring Catholic priest. He has been a priest throughout the most tumultuous and changing period, not only for the Catholic Church, but religion itself. There were the Ecumenical Council changes of the 1960's that saw major changes in direction and presentation of the mass, including the change from Latin to English. There was growth in evangelical Christian Churches seemingly based on marketing and presentation. There has been the recognition of abuse within the Church and other Christian religions and organisations that has hurt and decimated the church and the profession of a priest. All this has gone on, and Father Jim Browne has continued with a Holy dignity that is admired by so many. His greatest singular achievement for the islands has been identifying the need for a ‘proper’ church. It came to fruition after much voluntary work from the Catholic and Anglican communities and the wider community that saw the Church of the Holy Spirit become a reality in September 2004. The Church was blessed on Pentecost Sunday 2005. In an interview a few years ago, Father Browne told us some things of what he has learned in his long life: "I would have to say that there is basic goodness in everyone but; at the same time, acknowledging human frailties and flaws. I also think we should stop blaming others for our negative outcomes in life.” We may not see much of Father Jim Browne publicly any more, but we definitely hope he gets to enjoy his now ‘really official’ retirement!
• Father Jim in front of his greatest island achievement - the building of the Church of the Holy Spirit.
• Father Jim busy at his Island home.