EDWARD Joseph Harte was born in March 1933, and ordained a Catholic priest when he was 33.
The sixth of eight children to Harold and Elsie Harte, he was raised in the Warrnambool district, where he won a scholarship to the local technical school.
Ironically, he was the only one of his siblings not to receive a Catholic education.
After completing his secondary schooling, he spent a period in Melbourne working for the Department of Aviation, before securing a job at the National Bank where he was posted to Skipton.
It was there that the call to the priesthood kept strengthening, but given he had not learnt Latin - compulsory back then for seminary students - he requested a transfer to Melbourne and enrolled in night school to remedy the situation.
With his struggle to master Latin still hanging over him, it was eventually decided the only way to learn it was to attend Latin classes with the students, and to do that and not be out of place, the then 21-year-old would have to don the full school uniform, cap included.
Many, in fact most, would give up at that stage but the young man was so determined he toughed it out, for two full years before he managed to get through by learning Latin in parrot fashion.
Fr Harte entered the seminary in 1958, and by the time of his ordination in 1966, the precious Latin he so doggedly worked to learn was being ushered into the background as the fruits of Vatican II reverberated around the world.
After initially serving as a curate at St Patrick's Wangaratta and then at St Brendan's in Shepparton, Fr Harte received his first appointment as parish priest at Holy Rosary Parish, White Hills. He took up his appointment on Australia Day 1980.
He threw himself into the life of his parish and quickly gained the love and respect of the locals of all persuasions.
He championed the many local groups such as the Legion of Mary, oversaw the development of the local school as it expanded at pace to keep up with the demand of a growing population, became chaplain of the Bendigo Jockey Club and was a distinguished patron, committee member and life member of the Marong Racing Club, raising valuable funds for local Catholic schools.
When the Sandhurst Diocese decided to close down three churches arguing they were not needed anymore, Fr Harte stood up and vigorously supported the retention of St Francis Xavier in East Bendigo, much to the relief of the locals.
Throughout a busy vocation with all its need to support people as they travel the emotional rollercoasters of life, Fr Harte remained calm, friendly, caring and considerate.
Fr Harte also travelled to the United States, where he served for several months as an assistant priest in downtown New York.
Fr Harte's life work was also his hobby. He had a devotion to the Saints. Perhaps it is no coincidence that his ordination on July 23, 1966, was followed by Saint Kilda winning its only VFL/AFL premiership two months later. Fr Harte enjoyed an occasional dabble and loved to follow the fortunes of local horses and especially his former school students, the famous jockeys Nash and Brad Rawiller.
Fr Ted Harte was a rare and much loved priest and confidante, and all who knew him saluted his kindness, care and vision.
He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the Catholic church and the local community in 2018.
Fr Harte died at Mercy Health's Bethlehem Home for the Aged on Sunday, January 2, aged 88.
"His greatest attribute was his humility," Mr Dobeli said..
"He was in tune with the needs of the community and cognizant of their daily struggles, particularly the less fortunate, and was always prepared to listen, show genuine empathy and act."
Mr Dobeli said it was because of Fr Harte's devotion to God and to the parish that the word 'no' was never part of his lexicon in those 37 years.
"Whether someone needed the last rites, often at some ungodly hour, a baptism, a wedding, or a funeral, a special Mass, or a visit to a sick parishioner, Fr Harte was always there," Mr Dobeli said.
"Not only did he do it, but willingly, and without fanfare. He was loved by all in the parish community.
"He had the ability to translate the Gospel Word into short practical messages that people could invoke in their daily lives to make themselves better people and more giving and respectful to their communities."
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