For June McLeish (Burleigh Heads parish), it was a small advertisement in the New Idea magazine on classes for Roman Catholic Initiation for Adults (RCIA), that triggered a deep and meaningful faith journey.
June was not baptised as Catholic, so it was more curiosity than anything else that prompted her to attend the RCIA classes. “I think I was looking for something bigger than myself, but I didn’t know what that was,” she said. She recalled vividly her first encounter with a Catholic priest, and their first moment of prayer together. “It was like a bucket of holy spirit had just fallen on me. I couldn’t explain it then but I knew that the search was over; I was home.”
From this powerful first encounter, grew her steadfast connection to priests and their ministry over many successive years. “I would like to personally acknowledge Fr Kevin Smith (Bulimba parish) and the late Fr Martin Doyle (Camp Hill parish) who have been such a great influence in my life. I would also like to generally acknowledge priests as the hardest working members of our Church. They spend their lives in service of others and despite the highs and lows that we go through, they are always there to listen and walk with us.”
When asked what made June decide to become an Eternal Guardian by remembering the Church in her Will, she explained that it was very important to her to ensure that her lifetime of blessings was reflected in her Will. “I have left a gift to the Priests Foundation because faith needs to shape the future for the next generation. This is my way of not taking the dedication of priests, which I have personally experienced, for granted. It is my way of extending a helping hand to them when they need it, during their retired years.”
June has also remembered the Mary MacKillop Bursary Fund in her Will and she spoke about the significance of young people in the future having the chance for faith to mould their developmental years. “I did not have a Catholic school education, and I feel like I missed out on faith when growing up. The gift in my Will to enable Catholic education bursaries for children in extreme hardship, is a good opportunity for me to help others to have the chance that I did not have for faith to be sown during school years.”
In yet another gesture of great generosity, June has also remembered Centacare in her Will and is keen for her gift to be used to develop pet therapy services in the future, for children who are in vulnerable circumstances. June’s pet dog Pinky is her constant companion and one of her greatest joys. “We all need a source of great joy in our lives and therefore I think pet therapy is essential in community service, and I’m sure will be even more beneficial in the future, with the ever-increasing focus on the mental health of young people,” she enthused.
If Wills are meant to be a reflection of our values, then for June this certainly rings true, as every aspect of her Will is inspired by a personal story of faith. “I cannot imagine coping with the struggles and challenges of life without God’s blessings. If I were to leave a legacy, it was only ever a legacy of deep and abiding gratitude, for the faith that has sustained me.”