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.
My prayers go with you .
I will pray daily for you.
Thanks for this interview. I’ve met Fr Dominic just once and was intrigued by his former life as a taxi driver. It’s good to have this deeper insight into his background and faith.
God bless you Fr Dominic
Fond memories of the Canberra Serra club visit to Fr Dominic’s parish – adoration in the chapel at the West Wyalong church, Mass at “the lake”, Mass in the Bolo Farm Chapel near Tullibigeal – what a parish. We pray for you and your ministry Fr Dominic.
What a lovely article on Fr Dominic’s journey to the priesthood. God Bless
Well done Father!
Then Seminarian, Fr Dominic Byrne, may have ridden on quad bike while on pastoral placement in the Temora Mission. It was on a farm near Grogan (google it if you need too).