Fr Kevin Walsh has not been moved (to another parish). He has been forcibly retired. He suffers from ongoing psychological problems and that is why he was asked to retire.
He is much loved because he is a priest but not many would be aware of, nor understand his problems but must feel sorry for him. Every priest is much loved by his parishioners and is often swamped after Mass with requests for blessings.
This has nothing to do with his own inherent goodness or worth as a priest. For his parishioners, he is a figure-head and represents God. Jesus shows Himself through the priest. We are only the cracked and flawed earthly vessels.
As a priest myself, I often hear children calling out as they point to me “Hey! There’s Jesus!” or “Hello God!” I think of myself as neither special nor irreplaceable. In fact, I have been forced to move from my parish a few times. It goes with the vocation. Priests take a vow of obedience. And if we can’t obey, then we are not worthy of the vocation.
Fr Kevin Walsh was formerly a Passionist Priest. He left his religious community to become a Diocesan priest. In recent years, Fr Kevin has been unable to maintain the demands of parish life as he is constantly assisting his ailing mother who lives in the area.
John XXIII Parish is relatively new in the Parramatta Diocese and as such is quite demanding. The previous pastor Paul Venticinque, who founded the parish, left the priesthood to marry a grandmother and parishioner in his parish! Such is the pressure of priestly ministry that can lead a man to surrender his logic and rationality to seek human comfort and consolation (no matter in what form it comes).
I think the Diocese in its wisdom, observed that Fr Kevin Walsh was heading down that same track and cut him off at the pass. Their decision to remove Fr. Kevin Walsh was intended to protect both himself and his parishioners.
It would be illogical for the church to remove a much-loved or successful minister on a whim or if it did not have a good reason for doing so. Of course collections and attendance would suffer. It would be stupid to do so. However, it is malicious and stupid to suggest that he is a wonderful pastor and his removal has some other sinister motive.
Fr Joseph (firstname.lastname@example.org)