Five minutes with Fr Dominic Byrne
The Catholic Voice recently spent five minutes with Fr Dominic Byrne, parish priest of the West Wyalong mission.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in 1968 and grew up just down from the Garran shops, at that time an outer suburb which felt quite rural. I went to St Peter & Paul’s School (Garran) and then on to St Edmund’s College. I left school without any real sense of what I would like to do with my life and so fell into driving a taxi for quite some time: 12 years night shift and two years day shift.
What did you do before entering the seminary?
After fourteen years, I was particularly done with driving a taxi and looked for some sort of escape. I found it 18 years after I left St Edmund’s when I went back to school at the University of Canberra where I studied psychology.
When/how did you receive the call to the priesthood?
This call initially came to me in about 1997 after attending a prayer group. This nudged me from my complacency in the world and urged me into deep prayer and daily Mass. This shifted my circle of friends and I eventually realised that all the people with the same interest as me were studying for the priesthood, so I had to consider it also. Though I tried to accept this gift over two years I could not. At the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, the call suddenly came back to me. While studying at UC, I realised the second time around I could accept what the late Pope had called a gift and postponed asking Archbishop Coleridge if I could be accepted to the priesthood until after I graduated in 2007.
You’re now in West Wyalong and your previous ministry was on the coast. Has that been a big change?
Before moving to Batemans Bay I spent six months in Cooma. So, I went from the mountains, to the sea, to the wide open plains. I always enjoyed the wide-open spaces wherever I lived and still consider the towns that I have lived in home (the other two being Temora and Goulburn). Of course, I was warned that the beaches of West Wyalong are different to Batemans Bay.
One unusual fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
A particularly important issue for me is the quad bike accident rate in rural Australia, as I did some quad bike motorcross racing. The types of accidents you see on the farm are very different to those on a racetrack. The determining factor is the difference in skill set, not forgetting that there is usually a difference in age of the rider.
Who or what inspires you?
I was fortunate to have met Pope Benedict XVI and am reading one of his books (Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today) during this time when we are all able to read much more. St Mary MacKillop of the Cross has a favourite saying that is a common thought of mine, “Never see a need without doing something about it.”
What are your interests?
My interests tend to revolve around pro-life issues and learning more about our Church. I also have a strong devotion to the writings of Luisa Piccarreta.
How have you kept occupied during the lockdown?
Through a constant rhythm of prayer and work.