Spreading his wings

WATCHING the swirl of people on the floor at the recent Clarence River Bridge Ball, Father Peter Catt glimpsed a snapshot of the lives he has touched in Grafton's 'dance of life'.

A prominent member of the town's community since beginning his tenure as Dean of Grafton in 1997, Fr Catt will depart the Clarence Valley in November to take up the position of sub-Dean of Brisbane.

After a decade of heavy involvement with his parishioners, Fr Catt said the decision to relocate was a difficult one, involving the balancing of personal and 'missional' factors.

"Grafton is a wonderful town, the relationships I have built in my time here are something that have shaped me if my decision were purely based on relationships then I would stay forever," he said.

"Life in the priesthood is a transient one, it's good for people to move on and for towns to embrace new personalities.

"While I'm still coping with the trauma of saying goodbye and leaving Grafton, I'm developing a deep excitement about the challenges that await me in Brisbane."

In his role as sub-Dean, based at St John's Cathedral in Brisbane's CBD, Fr Catt said he would be required to focus his energies solely on the people of his parish.

"The Dean will be looking after the physical elements of the church, like overseeing the final stages of its construction, which will leave me to look after the people. It's like the job was made for me," he said.

"My mantra is that everyone is unique and is uniquely loved, people are an amazing element of my work and I hope to help as many of them as possible realise how gifted and valuable they are.

"It occurred to me how many people's lives I had touched in Grafton when I was at the Bridge Ball I'm a horrible dancer myself but as I watched everyone on the dance floor I saw the faces of so many people whose lives had crossed paths with mine, it really was like a dance of life."

With his commitment to nurturing the community through pastoral pursuits, including his weekly column in The Daily Examiner and involvement in the biennial Philosophy, Science and Theology Festival, Bishop of Grafton Keith Slater said Fr Catt's contribution to the Grafton parish was immeasurable.

"Building community is Fr Catt's motivating force. He's very good with people and has given a great deal to the community through his pastoral work," he said.

"Fr Catt has an incredible knack of reaching out to people and I think this ability is what has endeared him to the people of the parish from all walks of life. We will all miss him very much."

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