GATTON’S newest parish priest didn’t expect to find India in the Lockyer Valley.
Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father Noyichan Mamoottil, officially installed this month as the pastor for the Gatton-Laidley parish, believes his new parishioners have a similar character to Catholics in Kerala, India.
“I think it’s because most of (the parishioners) are not formal, they are very personable, just like the people in Kerala,” Fr Mamoottil said.
“It’s a breath of fresh air.
“It’s easy for me to visit them and talk to them personally.
“I really feel at home with them.”
Fr Mamoottil’s appointment at Our Lady of the Valley Parish is his first major pastoral appointment in Brisbane archdiocese.
In the past six years in Brisbane he has served as an assistant priest in Redcliffe, Surfers Paradise, Sunnybank and Upper Mt Gravatt.
“I have been moved around a lot,” Fr Mamoottil said.
“I think the Archbishop (Mark Coleridge) thought I needed to be brought to some stability.”
As the pastor for a country church in Queensland, Fr Mamoottil has already noticed the challenge of being relevant to young people.
With no secondary school in the area, many of the town’s young people head to Toowoomba or Ipswich for education, driving many young families out of Gatton.
“It has been a challenge for a while, and could be a challenge all over the world,” Fr Mamoottil said.
“Still, families, parents, they come together for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and Easter.
“The family bond is very strong.”
The absence of “young blood” in the pews is another challenge that Fr Mamoottil at 36 has temporarily solved with his presence.
“I feel like the youngest one in the Church,” Fr Mamoottil said.
By Emilie Ng