“All my family are very earthy people – we find God in relationships with the people,” Fr Paul said.
It comes from his Irish Catholic family background that can only be described as merry in every sense.
They experience joy in God’s gifts through “beauty, music, searching, grounded in the realty of human experience,” as Fr Paul explains.
“We know God’s love because we’ve experienced it.”
His neighbouring parishes in the Blue Mountains are a scenic setting to experience God’s love.
Perhaps it’s an experience of God’s love that grew at St Columba’s Minor Seminary, Springwood, which he joined over 40 years ago, within the bounds of St Thomas Aquinas Parish. Today it is St Columba’s Catholic College.
“We were the last class to complete three years at Springwood,” he said.
After ordination to the priesthood in 1981, he found he had a gift for pastoral theology and was founding Director of the Parramatta Pastoral Institute, which is today the Institute for Mission.
Working with people has been a great blessing in his vocation.
“I’ve enjoyed all my postings and my working in parishes.
“You realise the goodness of God in His people, their generosity,” Fr Paul said.
“Faith is a believing in the mystery of God that goes on forever.
“The pilgrimage – the people you encounter on the what speaks eloquently of God.”
Seeing the power of the sacraments in people’s lives is another great delight of his vocation.
“The wonder of baptism, the wonder of people who create life and despite whatever is happening in society, they want the experience of God in this child’s life. That always amazes me.”
“In weddings, the people are willing to risk everything for someone they love.”
In funerals, he’s amazed by the burning hope people have, even if they’re not able to articulate it at the time.
He’s grateful to experience celebrating the Eucharist and the support of members of the community.
“It’s humbling to experience.”
He’s able to witness the grace of God elevating students’ lives in his parishes.
He was formerly Episcopal Vicar for Education and notes the opportunities for study in the area.
“We have outstanding educators in the Blue Mountains,” he said.
Fr Paul’s own study includes Arts at the University of New South Wales, focusing on English literature and postgraduate study at Boston College.
He describes his Arts study as “the subject when you’re not sure what you want to do!”
“I love the melody and imagination of language.”
Yeats, Keats, Patrick White, T.S. Eliot are all favourites.
“I like a broad range. There is always something there, the infinite capacity of the human mind to create beauty, that’s the wonder of language.”
Fr Paul is fascinated by “how we article things beyond the imagination – God.”
It’s been a great pleasure of his to see “the great Catholic intellectual tradition developing and deepening.”
“The adventure goes on forever, God is always new,” he said.