Milestones for two Salesian priests

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Milestones for two Salesian priests
Fr Peter Rankin SDB (left) and Fr Guy Riolo SDB. Photo: Br Barry Parker SDB.

This December, the Salesian community of Glenorchy has double the cause for celebration – with the Rector of the community, Fr Peter Rankin, SDB marking his 30th anniversary of ordination just one day before Fr Guy Riolo’s 20th anniversary on December 10. 

However, it will be business as usual for the four Salesians living in Glenorchy, who will spend the days in the busy rush of Christmas, parish duties, and end of school term chaos.  

This is a perfectly fitting celebration for a Salesian priest, who has offered his life in service, education and community.

Frs Peter and Guy are very different in terms of background and vocation, Fr Peter, a young vocation, grew up in the Victorian country town of Fumina with 11 siblings, while Fr Guy, born in Italy, entered the Salesians at the age of 31 - yet both were attracted by the opportunity to live in community with their brother priests. Twenty years later, Fr Guy says that “living in community” is still one of the primary highlights of his vocation, as well as the opportunity, as parish priest of Glenorchy, to meet new people, visit, work with the youth and offer the sacraments.

Fr Peter, who currently serves as rector to both the Salesian community and Dominic College recalls how his vocation was cemented by the “positive experience and good role models” he witnessed during the two years he spent at the Salesian boarding school in Victoria. Coming from a large family, he was strongly attracted to the familial aspect of community life. Fr Peter still recalls his parents on his ordination day: “It was a magic day with my family. It was a reward for my parent’s faith, seeing their son as a priest … you couldn’t get the smile off Dad’s face.”

When Fr Guy was asked whether he would recommend the life of a Salesian, there was not a moment’s hesitation: “Definitely. Because God calls and you don’t know until you give it a try. I remember [before I entered] I stumbled upon a new priest offering his first Mass. I wept and remember thinking ‘this could have been me’ … I thank God it [later] was!”

The founder of the Salesians, St Don Bosco, was passionate about vocations. It is with the same passion that centuries later his spiritual sons, Frs Peter and Guy, celebrate a combined half century of priesthood.