Five minutes with Bishop Pat

What is one of your happiest memories of the priesthood?

I was ordained to the priesthood in my home parish in Queanbeyan on 17 July 1965, aged 23. Then, on 18 April 1986, I was ordained bishop in St Christopher’s Cathedral, aged 44. In both places, I was very much “at home”. I had done all my early education in St Christopher’s parish and spent my first five years of priestly ministry there. As I was leaving, I told the parishioners that they were the happiest five years of my life. When I left Goulburn two years later, I told the parishioners there that the two years spent with them were just as happy.

What do you do in retirement?

I decided to retire in 2012 at the age of 70 rather than 75, saying that I was leaving behind meetings, bureaucracy and church politics to continue with the pastoral ministry that drew me into the priesthood in the first place. By and large, I have been able to do that by “supplying” in parishes, giving the occasional talk or retreat, and continuing with the pastoral contacts from my earlier life.

It is a joy to walk down the street in Manuka or Queanbeyan and meet with friends from my earlier life. My hair has turned from black to grey and sometimes my old friends have to jog my memory with details of the past. But it is satisfying to be able to recall those earlier years. I have been involved in 28 funerals this year. When people say to me, “that must be depressing”, I reply that, on the contrary, it is a time when so many positive elements are revealed in the life of the deceased person and there is the opportunity to help family and friends to experience it all in the context of Jesus’ resurrection.

Any regrets?

I can genuinely say that there has never been a day in my life when I haven’t thanked God for the gift of being called to be a priest. That is not to say that there haven’t been a few tough times, but they have been easily outnumbered by grace-filled days.

Any advice for those considering the priesthood?

The biggest challenge, I believe, facing young men considering a vocation to the priesthood today is that of celibacy. The decision to renounce the opportunity to marry and have a family is enormous. About half of my ordination class of 1965 have resigned from active ministry, not through loss of faith or love for the priesthood but because they concluded that they might have had a vocation to the priesthood but not to celibacy. I too, have had issues to face in all this, but I thank God for my family and for the wholesome pastoral friendships which have sustained me throughout 56 years as a priest and 35 years as a bishop. On Father’s Day, I am glad to be “Father Pat” to those who know me best.

PS My little pup, Clara, is a great companion in these COVID days when otherwise I would be living alone.

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COMMENTS

Wordpress (9)
  • Anne Rosewarne 1 month

    God bless Fr. Pat, a boy from my old home town. You have always known who I was as we met at Mass during the Years .”The Body of Christ, Anne” you would say, as I went to the Altar to receive Holy Communion. I was about 6 years older than you, but one of the old Queanbeyan crowd. May the good Lord keep you safe. Anne nee Hobbs.

  • Joe Tran 1 month

    It s a great blessing to me since l arrived here from Japan as a refugee under the sponsorship by dear Fr Tom Wright, the Director of the Social Office at that time. Fr Tom introduced me to you, a young handsome and charming secretary of Archbishop Edward Clancy then. Since then you always support me and guide me to my journey as a seminarian then as  a priest. Your friendship and support are greatly treasured and appreciated.
    Enjoy your retirement Bishop Pat.
    Joe Tran

  • Sabina Van Rooy 1 month

    Fr Pat,
    You have been inspiring to many of us in your years of service to our community. Especially to SRE teachers in our state schools in NSW and catechists in Parish Schools of Religion in the ACT. May you continued to enjoy your retirement. Blessings Sabina Van Rooy

  • peter ahern 1 month

    Fr. Pat is a modern day Jesus, and always gives us great hope. Thank you, Fr. Pat for your presence and inspiration over the years. Keep well.

  • Gavin O'Brien 1 month

    Father Pat,
    An inspiring chat. Your faith, hope and strength in this time of great turmoil in the Church and the World give us much hope.
    Take care,

    Gavin and Esther .

  • Antonios Kaltoum 4 weeks

    Wonderful to read your story and to know that you are still active. I have met you on your visits to Cooma as I was an acolyte to you on many occasions and your little companion sitting up front keeping an eye on you.

  • Gabriel M Joseph 4 weeks

    Genuine, honest and touching history of Bishop Pat who has always cared for and stills cares for the downtrodden and oppressed people of all nations. He has been my spiritual guidance in many indirect and direct ways. The answers here are not even a drop in the ocean of service he has given as the Bishop and continues to give during his post Bishop era. may God continue to bless him.

    Gabriel Joseph

  • John and Trish 4 weeks

    We always enjoy catching up with you at different occasions and reminiscing over our memories from school days etc.keep well.always welcome in our home on the south coast (ie Tomakin)

  • Annette Charge 3 weeks

    Father Pat
    You have been such an inspiration to us for over 52 years, we have watched you grow in such a spiritual way along the journey of our lives and yours.
    We pray God will keep you in good wealth all the days of your life and thank you for sharing this journey in our lives.
    Love and Peace 
    Brian and Annette