Guest speaker at an SPC forum on 17 April 2013
“Growing up in Queanbeyan, adjacent to Canberra, I never took exception to its nickname, ‘Struggletown’. My father politely pointed out that Queanbeyan was the mother of Canberra, and it was simply a case of the child outgrowing the parent. In my boyhood in the post-World War II days, Queanbeyan welcomed many refugees from war-torn Europe, and my parents were great examples to me of caring for the battlers. Dad was a Justice of the Peace, and not only did he witness the signatures of the ‘New Australians’ on their documents, but he also helped them to navigate their way through potentially difficult waters. He adopted a similar role as a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society and in community activities. My mother welcomed all comers into our home and showed them unconditional love.
To stand up for the poor, even as a child, was second nature to me, and one of the motivations which led me to consider becoming a priest. From my early days in the priesthood, I had some great role models in promoting justice and respect for the people I was privileged to serve. In many ways, it was the struggling people themselves who gave me some of the best lessons in life.”
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