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Prodigal uncle returns home to the Church for the nephews

Rob Pavey: “I needed to learn about the Mass, the old and the new, I needed to learn about scriptures, I needed to learn about the Eucharist, all the things you see in Church and you think ‘What’s that’.”

ONLY the curious minds of three young boys could bring Rob Pavey into a Catholic Church every Sunday.

The 45-year-old loss adjuster originally from Townsville has his three nephews to thank for his recent return to the Church.

Despite being a faith-filled student at Ignatius Park College, by the time Rob reached his 20s he had stopped going to Mass regularly.

“In my mid-20s I was a bit of a wild boy,” Rob said.

“I didn’t go to church a lot – I only really went at Christmas time to appease my mother.

“I did get away from it, but it was always there.”

He had a change of heart when he welcomed three nephews into the world.

“They started asking me a lot of questions around what they were learning, not too in depth of questions but they really asked me what my understanding and what my knowledge was of Scriptures was, what it’s like to be a Catholic,” Rob said.

“That really shot me into going back.”

Rob’s nephews lived in the same neighbourhood as a parish that hosts Catholics Returning Home, a ministry that reaches out to people who have walked away from the Church. 

“I’d go past the church and see a big white sign out the front that said something like ‘Have you been away from the church too long?’,” Rob said.

“Underneath it said they had a Catholics Returning Home classes and it had a phone number on it – so I rang.”

Rob turned up to the first of six sessions, but by the second night he knew the program was an answer to his prayers.

“I found the first couple of Monday nights, this was really what I needed,” Rob said.

“I needed to learn about the Mass, the old and the new, I needed to learn about scriptures, I needed to learn about the Eucharist, all the things you see in Church and you think ‘What’s that’.”

The presence of a Catholic priest also inspired Rob to come back into the life of the Church.

“The big thing for me is the contact you had with the priest, and for me it was Fr Adrian Farrelly,” Rob said.

“Some of the things he said really lit a fire under me as far as my faith goes.”

Rob also started reading one of the most endearing books he had ever opened – the Bible.

“When I first started the course I thought to myself, ‘I’ve never read the Bible’,” Rob said. 

“I think by the end of the six week course I’d gone pretty close to reading (the Book of) Exodus.”

Rob’s first contact with Catholics Returning Home was in 2015 and every year since he has returned to the program to mentor for other Catholics hoping to reignite their faith.

He said listening was the most important aspect of the role.

“Really the most important part of being a mentor is listening and understanding and talking about things,” Rob said.

“You have to listen to the reasons why some people have been away from the church.

“Some people have been away 20, 50 years. 

“They have a lot of ingrained issues however for one reason or another they feel they need to come back and renew their faith and their knowledge of what it’s like to be a Catholic.”

While returning back to the Church at a time when “a lot of things are happening that bring emotions to the top” has been a challenge, Rob hasn’t let it affect his Catholic life.

“In the end I think the most important thing I got out of the course is that living your life as a Catholic is a really good way to lead your life,” Rob said.

“You can overcome anything if you believe in God, you absolutely can. 

“He’s there for you with open arms.”

As for his nephews, they’re still firing away with questions.

“My nephews will always ask questions,” Rob said. 

“I’m just busy arming myself with the information I need to answer those questions how their parents would want them answered and how they were answered for me when I was younger.”

Written by: Emilie Ng

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