Monsignor Brian Walsh semi-retired on 31 January this year, stepping down from his role as Local Administrator for the Diocese of Palmerston North. He remains as Vicar General for the diocese and Fr Craig Butler is now the Local Administrator.
Mons Brian was formally farewelled as Local Administrator at the educational conference dinner held in Palmerston North in late February for the principals and directors of religious studies. Also attending were several clergy staff, family members and friends.
Ordained in Stratford 1975 Mons Brian has served in 10 parishes throughout his 46 years of priesthood. This has included eight years at the Cathedral parish from 2002–10 and in Pahiatua/Dannevirke from 2011–15, before he was transferred back to the Cathedral.
In 2017, in recognition if his service to the Church, Fr Brian was bestowed the title of Monsignor.
Mons Brian was appointed Vicar General in 2012 and Local Administrator for Diocese of Palmerston North in October 2019. He has been involved in a number of distinctive Church advisory roles and memberships, including the Diocesan Protocol Committee 2005–09, Diocesan Management Advisory Council since 2005, Chairperson Clergy Trust Fund since 2005, member of the Council of Priests since 1990 and a member of Diocesan Consultors since 1990.
Brian Walsh was born in Stratford and brought up on a diary farm nearby. ‘My parents Jim and Kitty were both from the Stratford area, but both of their parents came from Ireland in the late 1890s. I have a sister, Marcella Childs, and brothers John (RIP) and Michael,’ he said.
As a child, he attended Bird Road country school then Francis Douglas Memorial College, New Plymouth. The family was closely associated with community events as well as the local Catholic parish, he says.
‘Besides my family, my aunty Sr Marcella RNDM and my uncle Fr Bill Walsh influenced my decision to train for the priesthood. I studied at Holy Name Seminary Christchurch in 1969 to 1970, then Holy Cross College Mosgiel from 1971 to 1974 and I was ordained at Stratford by Cardinal Delargey on 10 May 1975.
‘I have enjoyed the priesthood mainly because of the satisfaction of serving the people of God, in their joys and sorrows and in their daily challenges, to make their faith real and meaningful in a somewhat hostile secular environment. I have been inspired by the faith of the people I have served in each and every parish.
‘More recently, as Local Administrator and Vicar General, I have endeavoured to do my part in supporting the diocesan staff as well as the parishes, schools, and colleges in the diocese, especially as we await the appointment of a new bishop.’
Mons Brian’s advice to everyone is to use their ‘God-given’ talents to the best of their ability, and not to compare oneself with others, ‘because everyone is God’s special gift and everyone has an important part to play’.
‘I have moved into semi-retirement with deep gratitude to all who have supported me in my priesthood. I will continue to “help out” on Sundays in the local parishes, as well as being available for other needs as they arise,’ he says.
‘I intend to settle into semi-retirement gradually and see what else God has in store for me!’
General Manager for the diocese, Liam Greer said, ‘The diocese is eternally grateful for years of guidance, wisdom and spiritual direction provided by Mons Brian and will remain indebted to him forever’.