For the next few months we are lucky to have Fr Dennis Rochford with us here at Henley!
Dennis was born in Sydney in 1948 - a boomer! He attended Marist Brothers North Shore from Year 6-12 at the Mosman and North Sydney campuses. After Secondary School his first choice was Medicine at Sydney University but he soon realised that the MSC community and priesthood were his true vocation, especially overseas mission.
His formation as an MSC was frequently interrupted by demands for teachers in MSC Colleges. In the 60's and 70's the attitude was to majority staff our Colleges with Religious. Times have changed! He was on the staff at Monivae (Vic), Downlands (Qld) and Daramalan (ACT). He taught whatever was needed and coached Rugby and Cricket. In addition he gained degrees in Arts (Philosophy) and Education (Dip.Ed) at ANU and Canberra University.
He was eventually ordained to the priesthood in 1978 and his first appointment was St. Peter Chanel Minor Seminary, Ulapia, PNG. He was Dean of Studies and Acting Rector till the arrival of Father Tyson Donnely MSC. Five of his past students are now Bishops and one is a Cardinal, John Ribat. He moved from Rabaul as Executive Secretary to the PNG Bishops Conference (including Solomon Islands) and managed the parish of Tokarara, in addition to Chaplain for the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa).
Father Dennis returned to Sydney and was appointed to Hindmarsh parish and then the first PP to the newly created Flinders Park (now defunct). This was his first encounter with Henley Beach. In later years he visited Henley Beach to help out on a number of occasions. But after Flinders Park he moved to Rome for further studies at the MSC Study House in Via Asmara. He took a dislike to the Roman ways of study with a lengthy siesta. It made library work difficult. So he took an offer to move to Louvain (Leuven) and living at the American College (of the Immaculate Heart) in the Naamsestraat. This was one of only two American seminaries in Europe, the other being NAC, North American College (Rome). He attended the ancient Faculteit Theologie in the Flemish (Dutch) speaking part of Belgium. Distracted by ministry to the US Military, as an contract chaplain (Ramstein, Kaiserslauten), and then living privately in the city, he eventually graduated with a Licentiate (STL) in Sacred Theology and PhD (Theological Studies) and later the STD (Doctorate in Sacre Theologie). He studied the Dutch theologian (a Belgian), Edward Schillebeectkx) and his dissertation was entitled "The Contemporary Quest to Bridge Christian Faith with Contemporary Culture". Earlier he had written on, "Thomastic and Enlightenment Threads in the Writings of Edward Schillebeeckx". Europe seemed a long and enjoyable sojourn.
Dennis returned to Australia on the staff at Saint Paul's Late Vocation Seminary (Kensington, Sydney) when Father Paul Cashen was Rector. Father Paul had been, for a time, his companion in Leuven as a student at the University. To abbreviate his academic life, Dennis joined ACU in Melbourne and was Director of Research; he moved Sydney with the University as Head of School before accepting an offer from Notre Dame as Mary Prindiville Chair of Philosophy and Theology for four years. Again, he moved with the University to Sydney as foundation head of College on the Broadway. He left Notre Dame to accept an offer from the University of Macau (SAR), China, responsible for strategic management and first Vice-Rector for Christian Studies.
He returned to Australia after five long years and accepted a small parish in Melbourne (Greythorn parish) when Father Terry Curtin was made Auxiliary Bishop. During this time he walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Subsequently, he has lived in a beach house at Forster, NSW, where he tries to play golf and does parish supply in Maitland and Lismore Dioceses.
His reputation for engaging homilies has preceded his visit and we look forward to his wisdom and reflections in the coming months. Father Dennis will remain here at Henley until approx. May next year.
We are looking forward to hearing from him at the upcoming masses...