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'The Pacing Priest'

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Blake View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 8:51am
I sat down with the Pacing Priest, Father Brian Glasheen earlier tonight and interviewed him for an upcoming school assignment, he is a priest in bacchus marsh and has had a colourful life in harness & horse racing, here is the transcript, i will put the article up when i've written it.

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Blake: 

When you were growing up were you always involved with the church in your family?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

Yes, I suppose. Yeah. I was taken to church; our family went to church every Saturday.

Dad & Mum were both believers.

Mum’s background was Catholic; Dad’s had a bit of Presbyterian flavour to it. But they both went to church and sent me to a Catholic School.

 

Blake: Was the fatherhood your one and only choice of career?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

Oh no. No, no. On the contrary, I atrriculated in 1955, that’s VCE what you call it today and because I came from Preston which was a working class suburb, not many people in Preston got the tric so word went around Preston very quickly and the managing director of Albert Mitchell & sons came to me and asked me if I would work for him as an engineer.

He was a successful road contractor and he had the contract to build the Olympic Village in West Heidelberg. So I started as a cadet, I didn’t even know what an engineer was, but because mum and dad had gone through the depression they wanted me to have a job.

So I started as a cadet engineer and immediately from day one I started going to RMIT to study civil engineering part-time and I spent 8 years in that game.

 I was 3 years as a cadet and then in 1958 I was invited to become company secretary and engineer for Mitchell Lomac which was an offshoot of the original company.

What happened was that Albert Mitchell retired and so a couple of his brothers, a leading foreman and myself started a company.

I was only 20 they were 47, 50 and 55, but I could read and write, they had limited education.

 

Blake: So what led you back to the fatherhood in the end?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

Well, I had 3 years for the old company and 5 years with the new company, we started with four partners and four workers and by the time I got to 25 we employed about 25 blokes plus sub-contractors and we were doing pretty well but because I was studying civil engineering part-time often around exam time I would get into a meditative sort of mood and the call for priesthood was still there.

I suppose what really brought it to a head was, I went with a girl who was ready to marry me and I felt as though I couldn’t  true to myself unless I tried the priesthood.

 

Blake: How long have you been in the priesthood now?

 

Fr. Glasheen: 

Well, I went in 1964 that was to Corpus Christie College in Werribee. I did 8 years of training and I was ordained in my last year in Ballarat in 1971 so that’s 38 years. 

I’ve been in a variety of parish’s, I was a temp. At Murrumbeena but my first permanent job was at Manifold, people often call it Manifold Heights but in Geelong. That’s where I first caught up with the Bates’, your relatives. We played a lot of cards at their house and did a bit of drinking there too.

 

Greg and I had trotters together; we had a little horse called William Lodge and we won races with him.

 

Blake: Working in the same job for 38 years have you ever “lost the passion?”

 

Fr. Glasheen:

No, I’ve still got the passion I’d say, that’s a good way to put it.

It’s funny you mention the word passion. I was once in New Zealand at an inter-dominion and I drove in a celebrity race at Alexandra Park in Auckland and John May who was the announcer for New Zealand television said “Believe or not tonight we’ve got a Catholic Priest driving in this race and his passion is trotting.” But no I’m still keen and enjoying it.

 

Blake: In your career do you have any highlights that stick in your memory from the Priesthood?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

Yeah. I’d say I’ve had many highlights,  and if you have a really good funeral, an association with a family, and often I’ve had some wonderful funeral’s, it might sound funny but there is often a lot of tension and things behind the scenes and in the same way I’ve had some wonderful weddings.

 I would see every funeral as different and every wedding as different. It’s unique particularly when you are doing weddings because every bride is different or every groom is different or the family is different.

As a priest the day of the wedding you often know of tensions behind the scenes, like the bride’s father doesn’t like the groom or vice versa. It’s often the Father is attached to the eldest daughter and the mother is attached to the eldest son. So you are often switched on for a lot of those sorts of events.

It was a bit of a highlight to be able to refurbish this church. A lot of priests have breakdowns over refurbishing churches because a lot of parishioners are afraid of change and if you start tampering with an established church you are almost playing around with them, they don’t like you tampering with their church.

So to be able to do it and still retain their loyalty, it’s a very delicate matter and its exhausting both mentally and psychically and emotionally.

I suppose the five years I spent as a welfare Chaplin, I worked with the Taurana youth training centre which was for boys and Altara which was for younger boys, a childcare centre which was run by the state government and I was the official catholic Chaplin for them.

I’ve even got a memento to keep in my pocket. I just keep it to show that my hair wasn’t always grey and that I did have hair.

 

Blake:  You’ve also grown up in the harness industry, what is it that captures your imagination in the sport?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

The family connection, my family has been in it at least since 1880, my grandfather drove his first winner in 1880. He was a leading reinsman in Victoria and this horse [Grand Voyage] was regarded as an out and out champion in fact in the last century he was rated in the top 7 for 100 years. That’s symbolic because it’s a trotter beating a pacer. One of the reasons he was so good was because he was by an imported sire by an imported mare so his bloodlines were 40 years beyond his time.

I suppose a little highlight for me was driving a winner. It was at a proper registered meeting on Boxing Day in 1963 and what was even more delightful for me was that it was in a trotting race. It was a trotter which was regarded as more difficult to drive as they don’t have hobbles to use. The horses name was San Adios.

Later on I bred a horse and prepared a horse for the yearling sales in Adelaide and it topped the yearling sales and it later raced under the name Rusty Wongarra. He had 12 wins and 28 placings, having bred him it was a great thrill. And that day topping the yearling sales was a big thrill but the fact that he went on and won races proved that it wasn’t just a fluke.

 

Blake: You are known as the Pacing Priest, do you remember who coined the phrase?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

Yes, it was a journalist called Danny Power, in 1978 he wrote an article in the Sporting Globe and it was his way of helping to promote the first Harness Racing Mass in Australia.

 The delightful thing about it was that friends of mine in New Zealand bred this horse and they named it after me. He had a handful of starts in New Zealand for two wins and two placings and then he came to Victoria had one start for one win and then he was sold to Western Australia where he has had three wins and two seconds from five starts. He is pretty handy, out spelling at the moment.

 

Blake: What has been your most memorable moment at the track?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

I was close to the people with Gammalite, he won two inter-dominions and I was there to see both.

I was also friends with Brian Hancock who won three inter-dominions with Our Sir Vancelot; I was there for all of those.

 And of course in the galloping scene I was very close with Fred Kersley and that’s me blessing Northerly the day he won his first Cox Plate.

That’s the day he won the first Cox Plate, that’s Fred Kersley and that’s Bobby Caine, we were at Bobby’s place the day after he won.

I was asked to bless him, I suppose the most exciting day was the first time I blessed him when the strapper didn’t want to let me near the horse and Fred’s wife and her were having a big argument and while they were arguing I just stood in front of the horse and the horse was initially up looking around he was like a young kid.

At Flemington there was so much noise and so many people and then he put his head out so I put my hand out and he followed my hands and eventually he lowered his head so I put my hands over him and blessed him and at the end he licked my hand like a calve and the strapper saw it and she couldn’t believe it, she said “he hates people the only people he likes are the boss and me,” and anyway he went out and sat three wide at Flemington and won the Australian Cup in record time.

That was a big thrill but then winning the first Cox Plate, Les Carlyon the writer asked if he could be there when I blessed him and he was there, we blessed the horse and he went out and there was three of them across the line and a double protest but the whole lot was thrown out and he retained the race.

And even the second Cox Plate, I couldn’t go because I was doing Weddings, I watched it between the Weddings, anything to do with Northerly was great, he was a superstar.

 

Blake:  You received ‘personality of the year’ in 2000 at the Hunter Cup...

                                                    

Fr. Glasheen:

That’s right, yeah, how did you know that? Yeah this is the one from 2000. I also have one from the Inter-dominion carnival. When it was in Tasmania in 2006, it was a distinguished service medal.

 

Blake: Do you have any lowlights?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

Bell’s Of Shandon, there was a storm one day and she ran into a gatepost, she broke three ribs and punctured a lung, we had to put her down. She was in foal to Grinfromeartoear who sired the inter-dominion winner Mr. Feelgood but also sired the $100,000 sire stakes 2 year old colts final and also the $100,000 sire staked 2 year old fillies final.

He also sired the horse Mr. Big in America whose has won $3 million in stakes.

She had been in that paddock all her life and we were expecting big things from that foal so that was the lowlight. She was a good race mare and had already sired a winner.

 

Blake: What does the future hold for Brian Glasheen?

 

Fr. Glasheen:

Well, I’ll be 71 in October so in theory, when I hit 75 I’m obliged to hand in my resignation as parish priest, it doesn’t mean I have to leave the priesthood but when I turn 75 I’m supposed to resign.

I’m keen to still keep working, I feel as though I’m getting enough fulfilment out of it.

Still nice things happening.

 I was at the old people’s home at Providence the other day and somebody asked me what were my difficulties in life and I told them Information Technology and then I said that I still liked people and one of the old ladies who is very switched on said “That’s obvious Father Glasheen,” and she is very intelligent and that meant a lot to me.

 Eventually I will retire, I suppose I have to retire, but I will make the most of it when I can.

I still have a game of golf on my day off so I suppose my intention would be too play some golf.


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dan moor = gun View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dan moor = gun Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 9:04am
great read blakey boy old son. well done
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Peter B View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter B Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 7:06pm
yeah, well done Blake.Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robertd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 7:26pm
Thumbs Upgreat read blake,A+ from me,nice work indeed
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Blake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 10:44pm
thanks guys, i should be writing the article now, haha, hopefully i will have it done by tonight, if not i will just put it up whenever i finish it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nocturnal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 11:50pm

A priest was taking confession and thought it was a good opportunity to have an alter boy assist .

 
The first parishioner came in a"Bless me father for i sinned i have used the Lords name in vain. .
The priest turned to the young alter boy and questioned "what do you get for using the lords name in vain ?"
"2 hail marys" he replied
 
The next parishioner came in to the confessional "bless me father for i have sinned, I have lied."
 
Again the preist turns to the alter boy "what do you get for Lying?"
"2 our fathers father"
 
The final parishioner comes in to the confessional "Bless me father for i have sinned i have given the neighbour a head job.."
 
The priest turnsto the young lad and says "What do you get for a headjob?"
 
"A can of coke and a Mars bar'"
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ormond Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2009 at 12:04am
Great story Blake......Keep up the good work Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote horseshoe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2009 at 1:02am
yep...nice story Blake...anyone who knows the pacing priest, Father Glasheen,  knows what a genuine bloke he is....and he sure does love the horses, and has a real soft spot for the standies.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Blake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2009 at 4:20am
thanks ormond and horseshoe, this is my 2nd draft of the actual article, i am still tinkering a bit so not the final copy but i just thought i would put it up for you all too have a squiz at.



After 38 years in the priesthood you may be forgiven for thinking that Brian Glasheen has known only one life but as Father Glasheen explains that’s not the case at all.

Growing up in the town of Preston, Glasheen was a bright child, successfully completing high school.

“I matriculated in 1955...not many people in Preston got matric. So word went around very quickly,” Glasheen said.

After high school Glasheen was offered an engineering job with Albert Mitchell & Sons, a road contracting group, who had been assigned to build the 1956 Olympic Village in Heidelberg West.

“I started as a cadet, I didn’t even know what an engineer was but because mum and dad had gone through the depression they wanted me to have a job.” Glasheen said.

He began studying Civil Engineering part-time at RMIT University and after three years as a cadet he helped to form a new company Mitchell Lomac, when Albert Mitchell retired.

The new company was founded by two of Albert’s brothers along with a leading foreman from Albert Mitchell. Glasheen became secretary and an engineer in the new enterprise.

“I was only 20 years old, they were 47, 50 and 55, but I could read and write... They had limited education.” Glasheen recalls.

The new venture was no failure either, within five years they went from 8 employees to 25 plus sub-contractors, however the calling for priesthood was still in the back of Glasheen’s mind.

“I suppose what really brought it to a head was I went with a girl who was ready to marry me and I felt as though I couldn’t be true to myself unless I tried the priesthood.” Glasheen spoke candidly.

He began at Corpus Christie in Werribee in 1964 and finished up his eight years of training by being ordained in Ballarat.

Starting off as a temp at Murrumbeena, Glasheen then moved in to a permanent position in Manifold.

Perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments in the earlier years of his job was working with the state government run troubled youth programs.

“I spent five years as a welfare Chaplin, I worked with the Taurana youth training centre for boys and Altara which was for younger boys,” Glasheen said.

Glasheen has kept his identification badge from all those years ago.

“I just keep it to show that my hair wasn’t always grey and that I did have hair,” He quipped.

Glasheen was also extremely upbeat about the upgrades that have been made to his church in the past few years.

“It was a bit of a highlight to be able to refurbish this church, a lot of priests have breakdowns over refurbishing churches because a lot of parishioners are afraid of change and if you start tampering with an established church you are almost playing around with them.

“They don’t like you tampering with their church, to be able to do it and still retain their loyalty, it’s a very delicate matter and its exhausting both mentally and psychically and emotionally,” Glasheen said.

The priesthood is not the only life of Father Glasheen, he is somewhat of a celebrity in the harness racing game, with a family steeped in greatness it’s obvious that he still enjoys going to the trots whenever he can.

His grandfather Paddy was a leading reinsmen in Victoria, driving one of the out and out champions of sport in Grand Voyage back in the 1920’s.

Glasheen’s father, Jack Glasheen, continued the legacy and trained trotters in Preston.

It’s no wonder that Glasheen sights one of his greatest personal thrills in the sport as driving San Adios to a win.

“A little highlight for me was driving a winner, it was at a proper registered meeting on Boxing Day in 1963 and what was even more delightful for me was that it was in a trotting race, which was regarded as more difficult to drive as they don’t have hobbles.” Glasheen said.

Another thrill for Glasheen was breeding and selling a young horse called ‘Rusty Wongarra’. He took his young colt to the Adelaide yearling sales and ended up selling him for the highest amount of the sales.

Rusty Wongarra went on to win 12 races and place in 28 others, a key factor in fuelling Glasheen’s passion for the racing horsing industry.

“Topping the yearling sales was a big thrill but the fact that he went on and won races proved that it wasn’t just a fluke,” Glasheen said.

Recounting numerous stories as if they had happened yesterday, I was able to find out the origins of his nickname ‘The Pacing Priest.’

“It was a journalist called Danny Power, in 1978 he wrote an article in the Sporting Globe and it was his way of helping to promote the first Harness Racing Mass in Australia.

“The delightful thing about it was that friends of mine in New Zealand bred this horse and they named it after me,” Glasheen said as he went on to reel off the horses stats in its racing career, handy at that, with six wins from around 12 starts.

The one lowlight that comes to mind for Father Glasheen was when his mare Bell's Of Shandon had to be put down about a year ago.

She was in foal to Grinfromeartoear who is flying at the moment with winners in Australia and America.

"There was a storm one day and she ran into a gatepost, she broke three ribs and punctured a lung... She had been in that paddock all her life and we were expecting big things from that foal," Glasheen said.


When he starts to talk about the gallopers there is only one horse that we will speak about, Northerly.

He has numerous stories about the champion racehorse and his trainer who had been family friends with the Glasheen’s for decades.

Glasheen recalls a time when he had to duck down to the TAB in between Weddings to watch ‘The Fighting Tiger’ win his second Cox Plate.

Or his first Cox Plate where famous journalist Les Carlyon shadowed him for the day as he blessed Northerly before the big race and subsequent protest.

But there is one day that stands above the others for Glasheen, the day he first blessed the champion.

“The most exciting day was the first time I blessed him when the strapper didn’t want to let me near the horse and Fred’s wife and her were having a big argument,” Glasheen goes on with a grin.

“While they were arguing I just stood in front of the horse.

 “The horse was initially up looking around he was like a young kid, at Flemington there was so much noise and so many people and then he put his head out so I put my hand out and he followed my hands,” Glasheen recounts with decisive detail.

“Eventually he lowered his head so I put my hands over him and blessed him, at the end he licked my hand like a calf and the strapper saw it, she couldn’t believe it, she said ‘he hates people the only people he likes are the boss and me.

“Anyway he went out and sat three wide at Flemington and won the Australian Cup in record time.” Glasheen said as if this was something that happened every day of the week.

Glasheen summed up his greatest memories of the gallops with the line, “anything to do with Northerly was great he was a superstar.”

What now for Father Glasheen?

“I’ll be 71 in October so in theory, when I hit 75 I’m obliged to hand in my resignation as parish priest, it doesn’t mean I have to leave the priesthood but when I turn 75 I’m supposed to resign.

“I’m keen to still keep working, I feel as though I’m getting enough fulfilment out of it,” Glasheen said.

Father Glasheen recounted one last yarn for me; he was at Providence in Bacchus Marsh last week and was asked what his difficulties in life were.

“I told them Information Technology and then I said that I still liked people and one of the old ladies who is very switched on said “That’s obvious Father Glasheen,” and that meant a lot to me,” Glasheen said.

It’s not all work for Father Glasheen in the future though,

“I still have a game of golf, so I suppose my intention would be too play some more golf,” Glasheen laughed.

For now though, Father Glasheen will continue to run the Bacchus Marsh Catholic Church, have the occasional punt when his horses go around, and play the odd game of golf on his day off.

Like his favourite thoroughbred used to, Father Brian Glasheen plans to keep on kicking for a while yet.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote waggamick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2009 at 10:53pm
Nice effort Blake..pedantic I know but D for Depression...if you leave it the way you have it now it sounds like his parents were suffering from a mental illness.
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