CHERISHED priest Father Peter Ainsworth Bickley had plenty to celebrate during the 40th anniversary celebrations of his ordainment at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Morwell on Tuesday.
Currently serving as Bairnsdale’s parish priest, Fr Bickley was stationed in the Latrobe Valley for 26 years and was happy to return to the place he first gave mass.
Fr Bickley, who commemorated the occasion with family, friends and colleagues, reflected on the priesthood he had enjoyed, for which he was grateful to God, and the things he had achieved during his 40 years.
He not only heads the parish in Bairnsdale, but gives mass in the surrounding towns of Omeo, Bruthren, Swifts Creek and others, is a police chaplain and is attempting to raise $2.5 million for the restoration of the Bairnsdale church.
“It’s a busy life, but it’s good,” Fr Bickley said.
Priesthood was the life Fr Bickley had always wanted for himself, during his childhood in orphanages, continuing when, at 15 years old, he was adopted into a loving family, who he later took the name of.
“God was very much in the heart of Monica and Joseph Ainsworth, devoted faith-filled disciples who introduced me to family and for family life I will always be grateful,” Fr Bickley said.
The love his family has for him is evident, with his great nephew Liam Pearce writing a three-page biography of his beloved ‘Uncle Pete’.
“…Uncle Pete is a very special part of our family and we love him dearly,” Liam wrote.
“He is always there for everyone in happy times, celebrating births, weddings, christenings and also the sad times.”
During Tuesday’s celebration, Fr Bickley recalled the numerous times he baptised a baby, now fully grown, or a couple he married, who later told him of their appreciation.
“Serving my people… many a time I have gone to bed exhausted, but I would not have it any other way,” he said.