Mary Immaculate Church, Waverley

Parish Priest

Parish Priest

Fr Bernie Thomas, ofm

I come from a small suburb of Wellington called Wainuiomata, and my original training once leaving school was as a Cartographer (map drawing). However, I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including managing a petrol station, working in a fish factory, and working for the Inland Revenue (Tax) Department.

I have also spent a lot of time prior to being friar working for the church. – 2 years as a parish youth worker, 2 years teaching as a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and a year in Samoa also teaching. I was the Director of a school retreat team for 3 years which travelled throughout NZ leading retreats in many of the Catholic Schools. I have also been leading youth retreats since 1981! Since becoming a friar, I have continued my work in school retreat ministry, but have also led many adult retreats over the last 27 years. I have completed 4 years as University Chaplain as well as two years as PP of Waiheke Island parish.

Prior to that I was school chaplain to Marcellin College (Auckland) and St Peter’s College (Auckland – Christian Brothers). I was for a few years also the Director of our Franciscan Retreat Centre in Auckland. I was a lecturer and distance lecturer for the Catholic Institute of Aotearoa NZ teaching courses on Youth Ministry and Spirituality of Youth. I am also a trained Franciscan Spiritual Director receiving my training at the Franciscan International Study Centre in England.

Outside of my ministry, I have a great passion for music, being a pianist and can manage to play the pipe organ. I love musical theatre and have been in a number of musical productions over the years (prior to being a friar) I also love classical music. I keep myself fit with gym membership at a local gym in Bondi Junction. My other hobby is knitting, and over the last 10 years have probably knitted over 200 babies beanies for newborns. As a fundraiser whilst at the University Chaplaincy, I would’ve knitted well over 100 adult beanies and 200 pairs of hand-warmers. Since coming to Sydney, I have continued with this passion and have probably knitted close to another 200 beanies which have been distributed to those living rough on the streets through a local Catholic charity. If you want some knitting done just let me know! In recent times during Covid lockdowns I have tried to upskill my piano playing and renewed my passion for music, learning and re-learning a variety of music from Scott Joplin Ragtime to Mozart, Beethoven etc.

I have been blessed over the last 6 years in Waverley with great memories of people and achievements in our parish. We have managed to survive together through Covid and day to day challenges and have a community where the presence of Christ, (I believe – although I’m rather biased) is truly present in our worship and care of one another.

Feel free to contact me at any time should you need support or just want to catch up for a coffee or a meal.

Blessings, Fr Bernie

Phone: (02) 9369 9328
Email: parishpriest@waverleycatholic.org.au