Diocesan priest, Fr Douglas Bede Rheinberger, was farewelled today in a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated by Bishop Brian Mascord at St John the Evangelist Catholic Church Dapto, in the presence of Fr Doug’s extended family, friends, parishioners and clergy. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, many were not physically able to attend.
It was a celebration of a much-loved priest who faithfully served the people of God in the Diocese of Wollongong for over 60 years.
Fr Doug was born in Sydney on 4 April 1934, undertaking his primary and secondary schooling at Lewisham. After preliminary studies for the priesthood at St Columba’s College in Springwood, he continued his studies in Rome where, on 20 December 1958, he was ordained at the Propaganda Fide College in Rome.
Fr Doug returned to Wollongong in 1959, serving as assistant priest in the parishes of Wollongong, Nowra, Corrimal and Thirroul. Appointments as parish priest followed at Moruya, Picton and Thirroul parishes.
In 1988, he left the diocese to serve in the Central Pacific country of Kiribati. After returning to the diocese, he was appointed parish priest of Dapto in 1995 and retired in 2011.
Fr Doug celebrated his Diamond Jubilee of ordination to the priesthood in 2018.
For the past two years, Fr Doug has been resident at Villa Maria Nursing Home, Unanderra, where his greatest joy was to celebrate Mass for the residents, which he has been able to do until recently.
Fr Doug died peacefully on Thursday 2 July 2020, aged 86.
Bishop Brian would like to thank Kib and Vanessa Teaatu and family, Fr Francis Tran OAM, Jenny Gibson, Fred Caruana, Sue Daniels, and his former parishioners who visited and prayed for him since his retirement.
He would also like to thank staff at Villa Maria Centre, Unanderra, who were so caring ofFr Doug in so many ways.
“Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Mt 25:23). Requiescat in pace.
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Our diocesan logo is theologically rich and very succinct. As a hand, it depicts our mission as a diocese and as individuals within the diocese, of bearing (bringing, carrying) Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. In this, we are the hand of Jesus Christ, and we are offering ourselves to him so that he might work through us.
We can be the bearers of his love only as a response to his call and in the strength of his grace. We are reminded of this in two ways—through the symbol of the dove (the Holy Spirit) also present in the logo, and by the incorporation of the cross that segments the logo. The presence of the cross is a reminder that bearing the love of Christ will inevitably cost us if we live it authentically. However, in the way that the Cross is the portent of redemption and life—an echo of the tree of life in the book of Genesis—so becoming bearers of the love of Christ will also bring us to life.
The four fingers of the hand also represent the four regions of our diocese. The first is bluerepresenting the beautiful water of the Shoalhaven. The second is a blue and green combination representing the waters and escarpment of the Illawarra. The third is greendepicting the hills and plains of the Macarthur. The fourth is dark green illustrating the forests of the Southern Highlands.