Fr Bob Bossini celebrates Silver Jubilee of ordination to priesthood
|Fr Bob Bossini: “Building relationships with those who become my ministry gives me the greatest satisfaction.” Photo: Frank Vella.|
By Virginia Knight
Last month marked a milestone for Fr Robert (Bob) Bossini, Parish Priest of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes, who celebrated the Silver Jubilee of ordination to the priesthood.
Bishop Anthony Fisher OP was the principal celebrant for a parish Mass on 11 July 2012 and a supper reception was held on 13 July 2012 to celebrate the occasion.
A dynamic priest who is very much in touch with those in his parish community, Fr Bob’s down-to-earth personality and strong grasp of reality gives him a very real understanding of the life issues faced by those in his parish community.
He sees his priestly ministry as one of leadership in public life and said the biggest challenge is to continue to live out the life and values that he preaches.
“You have to live up to what you preach and believe in it,” Fr Bob said. “When you are preaching hope, joy, forgiveness and tolerance it can be difficult to emulate these values, especially if you as a person and pastor are experiencing difficult situations.”
Incredible mixture of joy and trepidation
|Fr Bob Bossini, Parish Priest of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes. Photo: Virginia Knight.|
Fr Bob said his early interest in a priestly vocation was assisted by his parents who had a high regard for the clergy, both in Australia and Egypt. “Their attitude kindled in me a sense of awe, admiration and approachability towards priests,” he said.
But it was not until he was in Year 10 in 1971 that he seriously considered a vocation. The newly established Archdiocese of Sydney Vocations Centre had commenced school visitations, offering seminars and interviewing students.
“It was brilliant. I felt I had a definite leaning towards priesthood, which grew deeper in Years 11 and 12. From then on, it was foremost in my mind.”
In 1974 he entered St Columba’s Seminary at Springwood and was there for two years before he was drawn to the Salesians of Don Bosco, making his first vows with the order in 1978.
On 11 July 1987, he was ordained Fr Bob Bossini SDB in St John Bosco Church at Engadine. “I remember my first Mass of Thanksgiving. When the procession to the altar was complete and the music had stopped I remained silent, waiting for the Mass to commence.
“After what seemed like an incredibly long time, I realised that people were waiting for me to make the sign of the cross. I thought, ‘Oh gosh I have to start this! I have to carry this now.’
“I remember with an incredible mixture of joy and trepidation the very first time that I uttered the words of consecration over the bread and wine. It was a mind-blowing experience.”
During his ministry with the Salesians, most of his appointments were in education. But he found a new direction while serving as Assistant Priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, St Marys, which is in the pastoral care of the order.
“This was my first full-time experience of parish life and ministry, and I truly enjoyed it. I began to realise that perhaps this was the ministry that the Lord was leading me into.”
In 2010, while he was Parish Priest at St Marys, Fr Bob was incardinated into the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.
“Building relationships with those who become my ministry gives me the greatest satisfaction,” he said. “Being able to celebrate the sacraments with the people and sharing in their everyday lives brings me the greatest joy.”
And after he almost died in 2005, living out this gift every day is something Fr Bob never takes for granted. While studying spiritual direction at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney, Fr Bob had a major heart attack and was kept alive only by the efforts of paramedics. He flat-lined for more than seven minutes and the prognosis was for long-term physical damage or sensory loss.
Around the tomb of Mary MacKillop, the Sisters of St Joseph kept an overnight prayer vigil for his recovery. When he emerged from his coma five days later with no residual side-effects his case became part of the cause for Mary’s canonisation. “The sisters believe that she had a part in my recovery,” Fr Bob said.
He notes that vocations to priesthood and religious life come from sustaining and promoting family life and are supported through community awareness and prayer.“Keep the process of discernment and prayer alive,” he said. “Keep close to priests who you consider to be good, effective and prayerful men. Spend the day with a priest, observing his work and talk to him about what he does. The Church needs good priests.”