Parish News

St Martin’s farewells priest after 21 years

Priest’s Warden Bev Rosser looks back on Rev’d Canon Mara Di Francesco’s time at St Martin’s Campbelltown as the popular priest begins a new chapter

Mara arrived at St Martin’s in 2002 as a breath of fresh air. Her enthusiasm over the years has brought significant change to St Martin’s, with a decided focus on ‘community engagement’. During her time St Martin’s has become a vibrant, community-centred church whose parishioners have been encouraged to volunteer within the church and outside.

Rev’d Canon Mara DiFrancesco at her farewell party with, left to right, Bev Rosser (Priest’s Warden), Eda DiFrancesco, and Darian Leckie (Peoples Warden)

As a priest Mara has a deep faith, a strong personal relationship with God and a good understanding of liturgy. She has been a dedicated pastor to her flock, and her pastoral care has always been a particular feature of her ministry.  

She is a forward planner and entrepreneurial, establishing new and innovative programs. Adept at recognising and encouraging other people’s gifts and skills, Mara has always seemed to have boundless energy in carrying out her own work. Her commitment to St Martin’s over almost 21 years has been exemplary.

Mara has developed close ties with local government, Anglicare, ABM, and BCA. More recently St Martin’s has formed a relationship with Foodbank SA which now visits St Martin’s fortnightly to distribute food to families in need.

She has also arranged a sponsorship with Disabled and Helpless Rehabilitation Service Centre (DHERSEC) Nepal, and Jonglei Health Science Institute in South Sudan, a Christian mission that trains mid-level health workers.

Marion Clayton, Verity Rosser, Peter Lammas, Caralyn Lammas, Liz Lammas, Deb Thornton- Wakefield, Bruce Clayton

In her time at St Martin’s Mara has introduced a number of special liturgies and programmes for important church occasions, including:

Enjoying Brunch: Left to right Suzie Milne, Lyn Cook, Julie Tamblyn, Keith Thomas, Rev’d Mary Lewis

Mara’s early background was in hospitality – both she and her husband Ian are trained chefs – and since Mara arrived, St Martin’s has become recognised for its ‘feeding’ of people, at various lunches, dinners and afternoon teas.

That culminated in the establishment of our Chat and Chew Café. Although run by volunteer parishioners, both Mara and Ian still regularly help out. 

During Mara’s tenure at St Martin’s, the following have been instigated:

In recent times Mara has been a driving force in the planning for a new Clergy House currently under construction.

Mara has always encouraged her parishioners’ involvement in all facets of church life, and there are a number of active groups. The Men’s Group and Ladies’ Guild have been long established, but the Book Club, Movie Group, Walking Group, Backpack programme for homeless youth, and Shelter program supporting women who have suffered domestic violence, are all comparatively new innovations during Mara’s tenure. 

Bishop Denise Ferguson, Vincent Tazia MP, James Stevens MP, Jill Whittaker (Mayor of Campbelltown CC) as Mara’s farewell service.

As Rector of St Martin’s Mara also has been the Chair of St Martin’s Cemetery Authority – the St Martin’s Heritage Cemetery was established in 1856, and over time has developed into a beautiful garden setting. In very recent times a mausoleum cemetery has also been established. 

Over the years Mara has kept a close eye on government grants that become available, that the parish might be eligible for, and on a number of occasions our applications have been successful. Such grants have assisted St Martin’s with the purchase and instalment of solar panels, solar battery, upgrade of our kitchen to commercial standard, establishment of a children’s playground, upgrade of security, installation of outdoor blinds and the provision of a defibrillator. 

We wish her well for her work in the future.