Baptism of six pulls family back to ties in Bega

It was a busy day at St Patrick’s on Sunday, as six baptisms were carried out for one family during the weekly mass ceremony.

Cousins Flyn Brannigan, 22 months, Eliza Dean, 12 months and Orlaith Brooks, 3 were baptised at the same time as their second cousins Jayden Constance, 4 and twins Hudson and Corbin O’Brien, 18 months. 

With strong family ties to the Bega region, the children’s baptism brought the relatives of the children together, including the O’Briens of Bega and Tathra, Thorntons of Bega, Constances of Bega and Gottaas of Bemboka.

The baptism also drew family from afar. Relatives traveled from Canberra, Sydney and Central Coast to witness the event. Flyn’s grandmother flew from Ireland to take part, and his godfather partook in the ceremony via Skype on an iPad from Boston, USA.

The supersized baptism was held in Bega so the children’s great-grandmother, Norma Gottaas, could attend. 

At 95 years old, Ms Gottaas’ health restricted her from travelling, so the family decided to bring the event to her instead. 

Father Michael Lim at St Patrick’s Bega said it was probably the biggest baptism for one family he will do in his life. 

“Sometimes I’ve had two or three, but six is very unusual,” he said. 

“It was a very busy day, there was a lot going on and it got very noisy sometimes, as you can imagine with six children, but I am glad I got to do it and I pulled it off.”

Father Lim said Ms Gottaas was delighted she could attend the baptism. 

“She was so so happy, her health means she hasn’t been able to attend church in the last few months, so she was very happy that day to be back in church for such a special occasion,” he said. 

Jenna O’Brien travelled from the Central Coast to baptise her twins alongside their first and second cousins. 

“We all had young children at about the same time, and were from the area, so it made sense to travel back and do it together,” she said.

Ms O’Brien attended St Patrick’s Primary as a child and married her husband Luke in St Patrick’s cathedral in 2009. 

“When I think about it, I actually have a very strong connection to that church, so it is pretty special for us,” she said.  

Flyn’s mother Emma Brannigan said it was a big job to prepare for the event because she had to seek permission from the local parishes of each family and organise the nearly 50 relatives that witnessed the baptism. 

Father Lim baptised another child in Tathra on Sunday, bringing the total number of new members to his congregation to seven.

“The more the merrier,” he said. 

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