To mark the 10th Anniversary of his ordination on 30 July, E-news caught up with Fr Peter Wood for an interview, in which he shares both the serious and lighter side of his personality!
Q. Tell us a little about your road to becoming a priest…
A: I was born and raised in Lismore, attending St Carthage’s for primary school and Woodlawn College for secondary school, where I was school captain. I never thought I wanted to be a priest. When I left school I went to Southern Cross University for two years. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do but needed to choose something so I did Business Studies. In that two years and through discussions with a friend, things became clearer and I remember, vividly, placing my hope and trust in God at that time. That’s when I knew deep down that being a priest was what I wanted to do. I studied for the priesthood at the Good Shepherd Seminary in Sydney and was ordained in Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore on 30 July 2010.
Q. Where have you been stationed since your ordination?
A: After completing further studies at the Seminary, I was appointed Assistant Priest at St Augustine’s Parish in Coffs Harbour where I stayed for 2 years. In late 2012, I moved to the Clarence Valley Parish. Then in November 2014, I was appointed to St Agnes’ Parish to replace Fr Amila Rajasekara. Fr Donnelly was Parish Priest and Fr James Foster was also here at that time. In 10 years as a priest I have presided over around 260 Baptisms, 30 Weddings and 270 Funerals.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a priest?
A: It’s not boring!
Q: What are the challenges of being a priest?
A: I am an introvert and so don’t mind time and space on my own to recharge my batteries. In a priestly vocation, you are dealing with people all the time, so it can be challenging for me, at times, to find the balance I need. It can also be challenging when I meet people who have very different beliefs to my own. Being a priest comes with a lot of responsibility. Sometimes there is a lot of pressure – living up to expectations, my own, other people’s and trying to understand what God wants of me.
Q. What are the blessings?
A: It is a real consolation to help people experience God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. I feel privileged to witness God’s transformative power at work in people’s lives. It is a real blessing to know that, as an instrument of God, I may have played a small part in helping someone find a glimpse of hope at a difficult time or enabled them to experience a ‘prodigal son’ moment through which they rediscover their faith relationship with God.
Q: Funny moment that sticks in your mind?
A: Funerals are generally somber but sometimes there are funny moments, too, like the time Melbourne Race Caller, Terry Bailey, gave the eulogy at his mother’s funeral in Grafton in a race record time of 3 minutes and 15 seconds.
Q: Most embarrassing moment?
A: I was in the middle of saying Mass and I really had to go to the toilet! I remember this happening to a classmate of mine from the seminary and I thought that’ll never happen to me… but it did!! I remember it was the Feast of the Holy Family! I knew I wasn’t going to get through…. From memory, the choir did a great job filling the interlude to cover my indisposition!
Q. Hidden (or not so hidden!) talent?
A: I enjoy singing and am known to do a pretty good rendition of Darryl Braithwaite’s ‘Horses’ every now and then… ask anyone, they’ll tell you!!
Q. Favourite Footy team?
A: Brisbane Broncos… it’s a bit of a test of loyalty at the moment but mark my words…WE’LL BE BACK!! Thanks for your time Fr Peter… Happy anniversary!