Fr George O’Mara, Parish Priest of Corpus Christi Parish, Cranebrook, died Wednesday evening, February 28, in Mt Druitt Palliative Care Hospital. He was 63. Funeral details will be announced once available.
Born on 8 September 1954 in Penrith, and educated at Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys and St Dominic’s College, Penrith, he studied at St Patrick’s College, Manly and was ordained to the priesthood on 23 November 1985.
Fr George was a priest for 33 years. Fr George held parish appointments in Winston Hills, Springwood, Windsor, Westmead, Blacktown, Quakers Hill (Parish Priest), Penrith, Harris Park and in 2007 was appointed Parish Priest of Cranebrook.
For the last two years, Fr George has suffered considerably as a result of an aggressive tumour, which resulted in much hospitalisation. Throughout his illness, his trust in God never failed, and he was quite prepared to meet the God who had called him to his vocation. He remained alert and active until the last two days.
In his illness, he was supported by the Clergy Health Team, the team of nurses from Blacktown Hospital, parishioners from Cranebrook, his friends but especially his good friend of many years, Sr Maria Marin PBVM, who cared for him at the Convent.
He spoke to Catholic Outlook in 2010 on the anniversary of his Silver Jubilee and about his life of dedicated service to the people of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
Fr George O’Mara – Catholic Outlook, December 2010
Last month, Fr George O’Mara, Parish Priest of Corpus Christi Parish, Cranebrook, celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his ordination to priesthood in St Mary’s Cathedral on 23 November 1985.
He was ordained by Archbishop Edward Bede Clancy (now Cardinal Clancy) along with his brother ordinands: Peter Dowd, Peter Smith and Reg Wilson.
To celebrate the anniversary of this joyful occasion, the Corpus Christi Parish community came together on the Feast of Christ the King; 25 years to the day that Fr George celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving.
Fr George has vivid memories of the Mass of Ordination: “St Mary’s Cathedral was packed with our families and friends, seminarians and priests of the Archdiocese of Sydney welcoming four new workers in the Lord’s vineyard. Fr Terry (now Bishop) Brady vested me on that memorable day.
“The next day at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, St Marys, I celebrated my Mass of Thanksgiving. In the congregation was my mother, Loris, and my brother, Terry, with his wife, Judy, and the four girls; my aunts and uncles and cousins, not all McKenzies from Mum’s side but some Pownings from Dad’s side as well. Dad had died when I was 14.
“I had been baptised in the old church in Putland Street and made my first Holy Communion and Confirmation in the church where I was now preaching my first homily.”
Fr George said he was drawn to the priesthood through his experience of returning to the practice of his faith in his mid-teen years. “Having become active in more parish ministries, I could see how the priest is essential as the channel of God’s grace to others. I saw nothing stopping me from offering myself to God, and I always believed it was God who was calling me to this vocation.
“I have experienced both joy and sorrow over the past 25 years: sorrow when my mother died in 2001 and then my brother suddenly in 2008. Joy in the support and friendship I have received from both priests and the people of many parishes that I have served in.
“I have always understood my priesthood as a humble ministry of service to God’s people; the ‘servant of the servants of God’ if you like. My own experience of success and of failure constantly reminds me that I am called fundamentally to be a man of God (1 Tim. 6:11) and, as such, I am called to sanctify, to teach and to lead God’s people to Him.”
Fr George said one of the challenges facing the Church today was to show the relevance of Christ’s teaching to a very secularised world “without watering down the demands of Christian discipleship”.
“Society has high expectations of the priesthood and there is an inevitable letdown when it’s realised that we’re only human after all. I am grateful for the help of good and close friends.”
For Fr George, the joy of priesthood is the opportunity to bring people closer to God in the significant moments of their lives, “celebrating the Eucharist for a community of ordinary people who struggle, like all of us, to see God’s plan working in their lives”.
To young men considering a vocation to priesthood or religious life, his advice is, “be confident in God’s grace given with His call, and know that you are offering your life to the service of our Holy Mother, the Church.”
Source: Catholic Outlook, 2010, with staff writers.
In your charity, please pray for the Repose of the Soul of Fr George and remember his family in your prayers.
The funeral details of Fr George will be announced in due course.
May he rest in peace.