News from Mackay19 July, 2023
The men’s dinner was held on June 26th. Chairman Peter Sheedy welcomed everyone including the guest speaker, Fr Gasper, from the Southern Cluster Mackay.
In the absence of Rex, Des Crowe presented the Reflection and spoke about the Men Alive group. Men Alive is a national Catholic ministry to men that was founded out of a response to a great need in the hearts and lives of men and a great need in the life of the Catholic Church. It’s a great way to listen, learn and grow in what God might say to us. It builds on the Gospels. The Gospels are as relevant today as they were 200 years ago. The message is to know God better and a life built around our faith.
With the introduction of Fr Gasper, it was mentioned he has been in the Diocese for four years and about two years in Mackay. He comes with academic qualifications of a Bachelor of Philosophy, BP of Theology, and a Master of Finance.
As an icebreaker, Fr Gasper commenced his talk with a hilarious joke. He then went on to mention it was his great privilege and pleasure to share a short story on his life journey with our dinner group. He is Indian by birth, a Christian by Baptism, a Priest by Holy Ordination, and now an Australian on a mission.
Fr Gasper is from a loving family of six children, three boys, and three girls. He is the baby of the family. Two of his brothers and sisters are married and two sisters are Nuns, working in India. Fr Gasper said he was blessed to have devout parents. His father was a carpenter. Sadly he passed away nine months after his ordination. His father had been a great inspiration to his becoming a priest, he was his hero and first teacher, especially in matters of faith. His father went to Holy Mass every day until a serious medical procedure prevented him from going. He prayed the Rosary regularly. Fr Gasper said his mother is a homemaker and is living with a brother at home.
With Fr Gasper’s education, he went from Grade 12 to Mt Carmel seminary and graduated in commerce (accounting), then onto St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary and graduated in Philosophy and Theology within the first ranks, in fact, he topped the class in both subjects.
Fr Gasper’s cherished dream came true on the 28th of December 2009 when he was ordained a priest of Christ. He then spent three years as an assistant priest at Santa Cruz. The next move was to transfer to a country church, St Sebastian, as priest in charge. The Bishop suggested dividing this church from the mother church. After much negotiating, the parish was separated, Fr Gasper’s church was declared independent, and he became the Parish Priest. While he was working there, at the request of the Bishop he graduated in commerce (Master of Finance). After nearly three years as a parish priest he was asked to be the Procurator of the Diocese (Financial Administrator of the Diocese). He was the youngest procurator of the Diocese in its 465 years of history. This was an extremely busy time as Procurator. He was also a member of the Consultative body for the Bishop, a member of the Priest’s council, a director of three hotels, a director of three housing villas, a convener of the construction committee, and a director of Shalom (the nursing home for retired priests of the Diocese). After three and a half years of additional finance and other roles, the Bishop asked Fr Gasper if he would like to go to Australia. On the 23rd of July 2019, Fr Gasper landed on our continent of Australia.
Leaving a home country must be difficult. Fr Gasper found our language different. He thought our English to be strange, it was not like the Indian English. He had to deal with cultural shock and differences. Also, food and having to cook was new to him. Life and Ministry were different.
He stayed with the Bishop in his first two months and then three months at Emerald to settle down and get used to life in Australia. His first appointment was associate pastor at Bundaberg with Fr Peter Tonti. Fr Gasper use to play soccer and cricket. He played a lot of badminton back in India. He finished off his talk with a joke.
Numerous questions were posed to Fr Gasper. More of his life was mentioned. On one occasion in India, he was required at a hospital, the patient was hard to handle no one would go near him. The patient kept asking for Fr Gasper. Father went to him and all the patient wanted was a cigarette. The slang in Australia was discussed and plenty of laughter took place by everyone.
Fr Gasper was an extremely good speaker (no problems now with his English) the members enjoyed his company. It is a shame that other men in the Mackay district didn’t come to hear our popular priest, Fr Gasper.
Our next dinner will be on the 31st of July, the guest speaker is Lui Giannangelo a Driving Instructor