The Reverend Father Ted Harte knew when he celebrated his golden jubilee that people had appreciated his devotion to the priesthood.
But it was never more pronounced then when he received a letter in the mail to say he was to be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Catholic Church in Australia, and to the community.
“I’m very pleased with it,” Father Harte said.
The 84-year-old retiree was as modest as ever about his achievements, which will be recognised on the 38th anniversary of his appointment to parish priest of Holy Rosary Church in White Hills.
It was not until last January that he retired.
Father Harte said it was ‘most unusual’ he was given the opportunity to stay in the same parish for 37 years.
“A couple of times I was asked if I’d like a change,” he said.
Twice, he took the opportunity to work in the USA. But Father Harte had no desire to permanently leave White Hills, given the choice.
“I’ve never felt guilty for staying in the same place for so long,” he said.
In the more than 50 years since he was ordained, Father Harte has only served in three Australian parishes.
He was an assistant priest in both Wangaratta and Shepparton before becoming parish priest of White Hills.
Had the bishop asked that he move, Father Harte said he would have gone.
But, with plenty of other parishes in Bendigo, he felt members of his congregation had choices if they wanted a change.
Many people stayed loyal to Father Harte.
“There have been children whose parents I’ve baptised,” he said.
Parishioners celebrated Father Harte and his contribution to their lives when he marked his golden jubilee, mid-2016.
“I have tried to give a good example in everything – that’s the most you can do,” he said.
In addition to being parish priest at White Hills, Father Harte was a chaplain at the Anne Caudle Centre and Bendigo Health hospice.
His other love is the Marong Racing Club, of which he is a patron, chaplain and life member.
To meet more of central Victoria’s 2018 Australia Day Honours List recipients, click here.
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