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‘Faithful Servants’ – meet Tricia Harding May 5, 2023

Fifth Sunday of Easter
Tricia Harding
Tricia Harding

  Welcome to our ‘Faithful Servants’ series

…a new feature that will faithfully share and regularly feature the ever-present ‘servants of the faith’ across our local parish community.

We continue this feature with a focus on our new Ministry Area leaders. This week we introduce OLR Service & Outreach Minister Tricia Harding. 

 

Retiring into Mission

A missionary, Christ-centred life has always been part of Tricia Harding’s life.

The new leader for the Service and Outreach Ministry across the parish says she immediately felt connected to this important area of work after attending last year’s Parish Summit at Unity College, Caloundra West.

“We had just moved from Toowoomba and I was looking for a role within the Church after serving on the Social Justice committee in the Diocese of Toowoomba,” said Tricia.

“As excited and daunted I feel by the role, I can see many similarities.

“The Parish is taking on a lot of change but it is a wonderful time to be involved,” she added. 

A devout Catholic, 66 year-old Tricia has touched many people’s lives both here and overseas. She was the Diocesan Director of Catholic Mission for seven years rallying behind the overseas communities Catholic Mission was supporting in India, Papua New Guinea and remote parts of the Northern Territory.

In 2006, Tricia travelled to Aiyipi, a small village in Papua New Guinea which was badly affected by a tsunami in 1998 killing more than 2000 people in the Diocese of Aitape.

Tricia said that the Presentation sisters ran a Youth Study Group for secondary students in the Aiyipi village.

“Many of the youth in the village had been pushed out of the education system by lack of fees, or by not winning a place in a high school simply because they had been deemed to fail, or because they may have missed a lot of schooling in previous years due to Malaria,” Tricia had described.

“For most youth, it was their only chance of an education. Most walked several hours from their own villages on a Sunday afternoon and then returned home on Friday afternoon.”

The Presentation Sisters had dormitory style accommodation for the students, but they had to buy, grow or bring their own food for the week.

Tricia said that the experience to visit those countries was a real eye-opener, to see ‘how we are blessed in many ways.

“Sometimes we don’t know how lucky we are until we come face to face with the reality of someone else’s life.

“The way they live is so different from what we have here. They sleep on the floor on very thin mats, they use a generator for power which is only turned on at certain times of the day, their cooking is all done outside over an open fire, but they were amongst the happiest people I has ever met!”

Tricia hopes to use her missionary experience and various other experience from volunteer positions including serving on the Boards of Downlands and Catholic Education in the last 20 years to work towards a renaissance of missionary activity across the parish to provide crucial pastoral and practical support.

Tricia (far right) at the Divine Renovation Conference in Sydney with OLR parishioners

Tricia grew up with devout Catholic parents who volunteered much of their own time to the Little Kings Movement for the handicapped.

“I grew up in a typical Catholic family but spent years continuing to strengthen my faith attending various formation courses, including a marriage Encounter weekend.”

Tricia, who grew up in Brisbane and went to Loreto Catholic College Cooparoo, married in 1977 and lived most of her life with her husband Peter in the remote western downs area of Queensland.

“First we lived in Taroom for 20 years, followed by another 20 years living in Toowoomba,” Tricia said.

“Peter was the only doctor in Taroom, a small country town in western Qld. He was so busy working and when we moved there we had just had our first child- the others came two yearly after that. My time there was spent raising them and volunteering on various committees as they grew up. All the usual things that you do in a country town!”

Tricia served on various country committees including the Hospital auxiliary; Nursing mothers’ association (now the Australian Breastfeeding Assoc); playgroups; Kindergartens; and the school P&F.

Tricia eventually became the first female councillor for the Taroom Shire Council once her children all went to Downlands a Boarding school in Toowoomba.

Despite her accomplishments, Tricia is most proud of her family. A near encounter of death as a 26 year-old, reminded Tricia about what matters most in life.

It was in these early years of life however, that Tricia was really reminded of God’s love and A house fire in 1983, in which Tricia and Peter lost all their possessions,

“Peter was earning a significant amount of money and we were enjoying life and accumulating material things while living in Taroom. In 1983, we had a house fire in the middle of the night in and we lost everything except ourselves and our two boys,” she said.

“After this, I felt, it was God reminding about what matters most in life and it is not material things!”

“My hope is that we must become, even more than we are already, a community of true disciples – learning from Christ who is meek and humble of heart and taking the form of servant.”

If you would like to be more involved with the Service and Outreach Ministry at Our Lady of the Rosary please contact Tricia on 0417 314 855 or email: [email protected]

Tricia’s daughters and 5 of ten grandchildren

 

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