FR Josh Whitehead has a surfboard lined up and he’s ready for his three-year placement in Caloundra parish.
So far his ministry and the surf have had an inexplicable link.
He learned to surf on his pastoral year in Maroochydore in 2017 before his Advent placement in Burleigh Heads.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into surfing,” Fr Whitehead said.
“But, even more than that, I’m looking forward to a new challenge being in the Caloundra parish and working in a parish environment.”
Since his ordination in late-June, Fr Whitehead has been stationed at St Stephen’s Cathedral before he goes to Caloundra, and he said he was grateful for his time there.
“It’s been a terrific time of learning how to say Mass,” he said. “I did a lot of work with Bishop Ken Howell before I was ordained but there’s nothing like learning how to do something by actually doing it.”
Looking to the future, Fr Whitehead said he was eager to learn as much as he could from Caloundra parish priest Fr Peter Brannelly.
Fr Whitehead got to know Fr Brannelly over a brief window when his diaconate placement at the cathedral lined up with Fr Brannelly’s last month as dean of the cathedral.
“He’s a bit of an innovator, Fr Peter, he got the tap-and-go here at the cathedral,” Fr Whitehead said.
“I’m looking forward to learning from Fr Peter as much as I can; he’s got a terrific amount of experience.
“He’s a real doer, if that’s even a word, (and) I’d like to think of myself as a doer as well, so I think we will work well together.”
Caloundra is a parish of 11 churches and quite unlike the inner-city cathedral Fr Whitehead’s familiar with.
“I’m actually hoping it will be a little bit easier (in Caloundra),” he said.
“The cathedral can be difficult only in the sense that there’s lots of visitors here.”
Having so many visitors means the people filling the pews can be different every time.
Fr Whitehead said he was looking forward to really getting to know his parishioners in Caloundra and learning about who they were and the challenges they faced.
He said when you knew the people you were preaching to, you could preach into their lives.
But with 11 churches in Caloundra parish, there were certainly many people to meet and Fr Whitehead said he was “hoping that a bit of Archbishop Mark (Coleridge’s) ability to remember names rubs off on me”.
His goal for his time in Caloundra was simple.
“Look, the only desire I have is to be a good priest, to be able to effectively serve the People of God,” he said.
He said that might sound a bit clichéd but it was how he felt.
Fr Brendan Gormley, newly ordained with Fr Whitehead, has been busy around Jubilee parish, where he was appointed until the end of the year.
He said while there had been a steep learning curve, it was a smooth transition from deacon to priest, back into the parish he had ministered in for the past year.
“That’s been a great advantage as I know the people, I know the six churches we’ve got, so that’s been a really big advantage for settling into ministry, having that familiarity with the people and the places where I’m assigned,” Fr Gormley said.
“It’s a lot different to being a deacon in many ways because you’re able to do so many more ministries – so because you’re able to do more, you do do more.”
Fr Gormley said Jubilee parish priest Fr Gerry Kalinowski had been great helping to answer many questions he had.
But Fr Gormley also said a contingent of newly ordained priests had also been of great support.
“Talking to the guys who haven’t been ordained more than a couple years themselves (and) just sharing a lot of pointers about some little pitfalls and tips to help make ministry a bit easier, a bit more meaningful – that’s been really good,” he said.
And nothing ever compared to on-the-job experience, Fr Gormley said.
“You learn as much as you can before you’re ordained, and you learn from your brother priests, but often it’s just sort of learning in the everyday,” he said.
Perhaps the most significant day-to-day change was how parishioners confided in Fr Gormley.
“You could just describe it as pastorally sensitive situations that you come across as a priest because people confide in you more as a priest than as a deacon,” he said.
“It’s all this learning curve of best response to the needs the people bring you.”
Fr Gormley said it had been fulfilling work and had built a strong sense of ministry, especially celebrating Mass.
“It’s good to be out doing what we’ve been trained to do,” he said.
Fr Gormley also offered a word of thanks for all those who helped and continued to help in his transition.
“I’m grateful to the parishioners of Jubilee and the brother priests who have reached out with support and advice in these early days for me,” he said.
“It’s been encouraging and very helpful on a practical level – on a number of levels – but practically it’s been really, really good.”
As for the future, Fr Gormley was optimistic.
“I’m just happy to go wherever I’m sent, just do my best wherever I find myself,” he said.
“So I try not to look too far ahead, just take it as it comes and trust that it will work out well and I’ll end up where I’m meant to be.”
Fr Whitehead and Fr Gormley join fellow brother priests who are taking on new roles in the archdiocese.
The following appointments were made by Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge recently:
l Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father Joseph Kanatt as parish priest of Sandgate Brighton for six years.
l Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father Thomas Varkey as parish priest of Booval, with effect from September, for six years.
l Fr Marty Larsen as parish priest of Runaway Bay, with effect from October, for six years.
l Divine Word Missionaries Fatherr Bonefasius Buahendri as parish priest of Inala for six years.
l Carmelites of Mary Immaculate Father Joseph Vattaparambil as administrator of Daisy Hill.
l Fr Roger Burns as administrator of Darra Jindalee.
l Fr Ladu Yanga as administrator of Victoria Point.
l Fr Jacob Kalu as associate pastor of Burleigh Heads.
l Fr Tom Elich as continuing parish priest of Bulimba for six years.
l Fr Pat Molony as continuing parish priest of Upper Mt Gravatt Wishart for six years.
l Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father Jomon Kandavanathil as associate pastor of Wilston Gordon Park and Enoggera for a year.
l Society of Christ Father Michal Skiba as associate pastor of Bowen Hills for three years.
l Divine Word Missionaries Father Firminus Wiryono as associate pastor of Kingston Marsden for a year.
“I thank them for their generosity in accepting a new mission, and I pray that their ministry will be peaceful and fruitful, both for them and for the people they serve,” Archbishop Coleridge said
“I welcome Frs Bonefasius Buahendri SVD, Michal Skiba SChr and Firminus Wiryono SVD as they come to minister,” he said.
“Fr Jojimon Thomas MCBS, who will soon complete his term at Booval and will return to India for a time of leave in September.
“After having served for the past eight years, Fr Modestus Mgbaramuko will leave the archdiocese in August in order to pursue further studies.”