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A New Parish Priest for St. Joseph’s Parish

On the evening of 22nd October 2016 a celebration was held of the Installation of the twenty-second Parish Priest of the Meredith Parish,  Father Charles Balnaves, by Archbishop Denis Hart DD, in front of a full church of parishioners, representatives of other denominations and friends.

Meredith is a historic parish with priests and bishops travelling through the area on horseback as early as 1845, and the first Mass said to be celebrated in Meredith by Fr Smyth in 1853.

In 1875 Meredith was made a separate parish, having previously been part of St Mary’s Mission.  Boundary changes have occurred throughout the ensuing one hundred and forty-one years and the Parish now consists of Mass Centres of:  Meredith, Anakie, Bannockburn, Inverleigh and Winchelsea and many small towns in between.  Fr James Hegarty was appointed the first Parish Priest and in the ensuing years twenty-one parish priests and eight administrators have faithfully served the parish.  

It has been nine years since Meredith Parish has had a Parish Priest, so as Archbishop Hart presented Fr Charles Balnaves with the keys of all the churches, and led him to the other important and significant parts of the church spontaneous applause broke out.  Archbishop Hart entreated Charles to always be a loving Father, a gentle shepherd and a wise teacher of his people, so that he may lead them to Christ.

Father Charles Balnaves has had a unique journey to the priesthood.  Growing up in Canberra he studied Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, becoming a petroleum engineer and project manager for BHP Billiton for more than thirty years.  He was married to Tania for thirty-seven years and has two sons, James and Michael.  

After leaving BHP Charles first worked as a Pastoral Associate before quiet words from respected priests and friends led him to study for the Diaconate.  

After caring for his wife Tania during her illness for 37 years and her subsequent death, Charles was lead again by quiet murmurs of the heart to his ordination to the Priesthood in June 2015, sent to the Melton Parish as an Assistant Priest and then in July 2016, appointed Parish Priest of the Meredith Parish.

A three course smorgasbord dinner, catered for by parishioners from all far corners of the parish completed a wonderful celebration.

Diane Ritchie