Funeral Mass for Father Thomas Carra, PE, celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart at Corpus Christi Church, Kingsville

Friday 15 September 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.”
(John 6:51)

This timely reminder of the power of the Eucharist is especially applicable to the life of Father Thomas Joseph Carra, whose body we bring for burial today.

Father Tom passed away at Villa Maria Catholic Homes Nursing Home, Berwick, on last Friday evening in the 59th year of his priesthood and the 87th year of his age. With his brother Frank, absent because of illness, his loved sister Mary, family members and friends, we come to seek the Lord’s consolation as we pray for the repose of Father Tom.

We are united with the Blessed Sacrament Order, where he served for four years, and the people of Werribee, West St Kilda, here at Kingsville twice, at Highett, at the Repatriation Hospital, Heidelberg, and finally for a few weeks short of twenty years where he served as pastor here in Kingsville.

He was a man who loved God and gave himself generously for people. His life witnesses to the power of the risen Christ among us. We know that our loving God will bring comfort to his family and friends, as we pray for Father Tom and thank God for his life.

Today we come to remember with love and affection the wonderful, pastoral care given here and elsewhere by Father Tom Carra.

This church with its many beautiful features is a clear indication of his love of the Eucharist and his readiness to serve people. After a year’s preparation and building works I was here with Archbishop Little on 1st June 1991 for the consecration of the new church here on Geelong Road.

A priest always presents to us the risen Christ. When a priest wears a stole and celebrates the Sacraments he brings the grace of Christ. Again in Reconciliation he absolves through the death and resurrection of Our Lord and similarly in the Sacrament of the Sick he brings the healing power of Christ’s resurrection.

Each one of us has died with Christ so that we may share his life. Most of all when the priest lifts the chalice and paten we see Jesus; the living bread, the food of eternal life. A priest’s presence and work carries the risen Christ to his people; sometimes in sacrament, sometimes in word and always in the person as the one who bears the risen Lord to his people. Through his prayer for people he carries them into the presence of God with the hope so abundant in his life, which now has become reality for himself and for us to be united with the God in whom we will find all in all - the end of our hopes and desires, the reality of God.

Father Tom Carra was born in Melbourne on 8th December 1930, the second son, after Frank, of Giovanni and Caterina, and later was followed by his sister, Maria, who is here today. He attended the two Catholic schools in Hawthorn parish and then went to De La Salle College. However, in 1947 the family moved to Boston, remaining there until Tom graduated from the English High School, Boston College, in 1949.

Tom soon felt his call to be a priest and his love of Christ led him to the Blessed Sacrament Order where he studied at the Seminary in Templestowe.

Tom was ordained on 27th July 1958 in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral by Archbishop Simonds, together with Bishop Deakin and a number of other notable Melbourne priests.

He worked with the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in Sydney for nearly fourteen years before seeking an appointment in parish work in the Archdiocese. This underlined his great love and desire to be near his family. He loved his mother and travelled later to Sydney with her. He enjoyed photography and was always ready to capture pictures from events and he was renowned for his green fingers, growing plants from seedlings and cuttings which benefited the parishes in which he lived and the Maryknoll community.

Father Tom was not alone in his love for four-legged companions, mostly Labradors and named Rover. The last dog, Rambo, continues to live with close friends at Maryknoll. This shows his love of life, of people and his generous readiness to do whatever he could to help the mission of the Archdiocese.

After Werribee, West St Kilda followed and then he spent two years here at Corpus Christi as assistant priest and it was at this stage that he became an incardinated priest of the Archdiocese on 4th August 1978. After this followed a time as Administrator of the parish of Highett, then in 1985 a role of Chaplain at the Repatriation Hospital. He was appointed parish priest here on 20th January 1988. Tom showed his love of the people of Kingsville and Brooklyn, his ready service of everyone here is something in which in his quiet way he demonstrated faithfulness, love and care.

During the 1970s he purchased his property at Maryknoll, which was his retreat. He went every Sunday afternoon, returning on Monday evening. His father, brother-in-law John, Ian Panton and other friends helped build the house where he has lived until recently.

His family remember his visits at Christmas and Easter, spending time with the family, camera in hand, telling stories and jokes.

His family remember with esteem his impact on other people’s lives. His friends in his parishes, in the Maryknoll community, all stated with his family: “Knowing Tom made your life better. His encouragement and support to all who knew him will not be forgotten and will leave a lasting impression.”

Today’s celebration therefore is one of precious memory. We pray for Father Tom and commend him to the Lord whom he loved and served so generously, as we remember that our faith shows us that we will most certainly be reunited with him in the kingdom of heaven. May his gentle and kind soul rest in peace and remain an example to those whose lives he touched so effectively.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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