Greg Byrne: an enquiring mind, an open heart

For 17 years, until June 2017, Greg Byrne served as Pastoral Associate in the parish of Forster Tuncurry. He has made an impact on our community and on the lives of so many individuals.

As parish priest, Fr Tony Brady welcomed Greg to the parish 40 years ago. Greg accepted Fr Tony as a mentor, seeking to know more about God whilst developing a commitment to service. They shared a vision of church.  

When driven to make sense of things, Greg reads, he studies, he attends conferences, he plans and then puts pen to paper so he can encourage others to embark on the journey to discover their faith. Many parishioners remember those shared experiences as we too were all fired up to put our faith into action – Church for a Better World, Hearts on Fire, Marriage Encounter, Family Groups, Antioch and Cursillo.

Greg is a man of faith. I began to know him when I was welcomed into the Byrne family home to join a faith- sharing group. Groups still meet there. I learned from the example of Greg and Lauranne that it was possible to put God first in my life as it was obvious that God was an important part of their marriage. When Lauranne passed away in 2015, the community shared the family’s grief.

Faith without action is nothing and Greg has been able to support so many, sharing their joys and their sorrows. Some came to know Greg when he visited them when they were sick or prayed with them as the death of a family member approached.  I witnessed Greg’s approach one day when we visited a friend in the nursing home. His ability to calm her in her state of anxiety was remarkable. He held her hands and talked to her so gently that she was able to steady her breathing and become settled.

Greg takes his vocation seriously and accepted the challenge of further study. The Tenison Woods Christian Formation and Ministry Course was offered in our parish and Greg brought an enquiring mind and open heart to this enriching time. He later went on to join a National Committee for Priests and Pastoral Associates and has been involved in associated conferences.

In the early days Greg was involved with the St Vincent de Paul Society locally and later as Diocesan President. He has a strong awareness of social justice issues and responds in action and in word. Greg knows the value of sitting in the gutter with someone who needs someone to listen and he was resourceful in helping people who knocked on the door of the parish office.

Greg Byrne has given us great leadership in our parish community, always attending to commitments generously and offering respect and compassion in an inclusive way. Greg has now retired from his position but he will still be spreading the Good News as a disciple of Jesus.

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