“Leaving my parish meant leaving home”

FR PETER CONROY, RETIRED JULY 2016

“Leaving the parish meant leaving home,” says Fr Peter Conroy, who recently handed over the care of his beloved St Sebastian’s Catholic Parish community in Yeronga after 39 years. “I miss my parish most.”

“There’s a great relationship between the priest and the parish where you work. The Catholic faith is at the very centre of what we’re about. I was taught it as I experienced it, and I saw the beauty and the joy that it brought to peoples’ lives. There are sadnesses, but there are always joys, of course. Although I’m no longer parish priest, we will still have that bonding of deep faith.”

With the help of Priests Foundation nurses, Fr Peter made this difficult transition in 2016, and he admits that he couldn’t have done it without them.

“They made the arrangements, helped with the move, and made sure I was at home in my new place. And that’s a big thing in itself – to make you feel welcome when you’ve been through such a big change.”

Fr Peter has been impressed by the help of Priests Foundation healthcare coordinators, Nikki, Peta and Helen. He describes their continual nursing care as “top class” and acknowledes that their support is indispensable for priests in his situation. Priests Foundation coordinators provide compassionate care, not only for priests transitioning into retirement but also for priests who are suffering with severe ill health or recovering from surgery.

“My health was declining so I had to make the crossover from an independent life to a community life. It tests your humility, and you think I can do it myself, but that’s no longer the case. It hit me hard when I went into retirement – I sat in the corner thinking what am I going to do?

“It’s engrained into you as a priest that you need to keep going. There’s no such thing as retirement. You can’t retire from being a priest; it’s like retiring from being a parent – you never retire from your calling.”

Each day Fr Peter concelebrates Mass with the priest at Marycrest Retirement Centre.

“I also help anoint the sick… and have given spiritual direction for the Legion of Mary group more recently – I am not a free-loader,” he says, adding how important it is for a priest to make himself available when people ask.

Fr Peter describes the two basic faculties of the priesthood of Christ as sacramental and administrative.

“Both these sides of the priesthood of Christ are essential because they express and strengthen the faith.

“To sum up my priesthood I would say I haven’t retired, I just exercise my priesthood in a different way, taking up other responsibilities where I can. I couldn’t be happier being here.”

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