Father Paul makes short trip to his new home
MOVING to a new area without much prior warning is part and parcel of life as a parish priest, their calling in ministry life to be wherever they are needed, a decision made with guidance from the diocese's bishop.
Which is why the St Mary's Parish has recently welcomed a new face behind its altar, Father Paul Winter who arrived in Grafton at the end of October.
But Fr. Paul didn't have too far to travel having served as parish priest in Coffs Harbour for the past decade or so before he got the call.
"It wasn't unexpected because I was due for a move in the next year or two," Fr. Paul said. "When I was told it was going to the Clarence Valley I was quite happy with that."
Also making the move along with Fr. Paul was fellow Coffs Harbour priest Fr. Frederick Basco who will serve as assistant priest for the parish.
Fr. Paul said they arrived right at the start of Jacaranda Festival week which was a colourful introduction to the city. "It's very beautiful to see. I'd heard about the trees so it was a lovely time to move here. We're both very happy to be here."
Moving at this time of year also means it will be Fr. Paul and Fr Frederick's first Christmas in the Clarence and while Easter is the busiest for church services, this weekend is typically a bit of a blockbuster when it comes the number of masses the priests will be leading.
Thankfully, Fr. Paul said, they had an extra member to the team in retired priest Fr. John Fitzwalter who will look after the South Grafton services.
"The mass load won't be too bad this year. We are looking forward to getting to know the area and the people.
Fr. Paul said everyone was welcome to come along to mass and have chat "regardless of who they are." "We are looking forward to starting a new year here."