Shepparton Catholic, Jobelle Collier, 30, has fulfilled a childhood dream of competing in The Amazing Race Australia with her father, Rani Alegre.
The St Brendan’s parishioner from country Victoria and mother of two recently took part in the television program, which is broadcast nationally.
Jobelle, who is affectionately known as Erika by many in the parish and Sandhurst Diocesan youth ministry circles, said that the experience was surreal.
“I thought the show was something I would only ever watch. I didn’t imagine I would be a part of it one day,” Jobelle said.
Jobelle, who was recently eliminated from the show with her father, said that there were both highs and lows.
“Abseiling down Castle Hill in Townsville and getting to see outback Australia in Longreach and Winton are pretty well up there in my highs,” she said.
“I got to see my dad turn into The Incredible Hulk while he assembled truck tyres in record time.
“We got to build a dinosaur skeleton together, run around different cities and towns completing tasks, struggling in some and really excelling in the others.”
Another highlight was having the opportunity to be a disc jockey on a radio station at Palm Island.
The lows included motion sickness on the first day of competition.
“I also found it hard to eat 20 dry Weetbixes with my Dad, trying to shoot gym balls while swinging from a pendulum and swimming out into the ocean knowing that my dad is terrified of open water,” Jobelle said.
She said that it was crazy to be able to fulfill a lifelong dream.
“When I was a kid, I said I would love to do the race with my dad because I saw how capable he was with so many things,” she said.
“He’s very clever and he can usually strategise a lot of things: I saw him build my mum a food truck from scratch and he is always happy no matter what!”
Jobelle believes that her participation in The Amazing Race Australia was providential.
“I saw God move mountains for us to be there and I knew that it was His plan for me,” she said.
“I would usually be very busy during the year when this was filmed, yet events were postponed, work was quiet enough that I could go and I had this unshakeable peace that I could only point to God.
“I am naturally a highly strung person so to be able to pack my bags and say goodbye to my husband and kids and not feel so restless, that to me was a sign that God has His hand on this.”
Jobelle was grateful for the support of her husband, Alan, along with other family, friends and parishioners.
“My family has been incredible,” she said.
“Alan is a God-given gift, he’s an incredibly supportive husband and a great dad to our two girls.
“My mum is the most generous person I know; she pours out so much time and love into my family and she really supported Alan while Dad and I were away.
“My brother Josh and sister-in-law Marian relieved me of my food truck duties while I was away.”
The support of the St Brendan’s Parish community was also appreciated.
“I actually don’t think that a lot of the parishioners know I’m on the show. (It’s) mostly just the people in the Church circles that I am in,” Jobelle said.
“A lot of the people who watched the show have been very supportive.
“Fr Joe (Taylor, Parish Priest) left me a voicemail a few episodes in and I was pretty stoked.”
Jobelle has been a parishioner of St Brendan’s since she arrived in Australia in 2007.
“I remember one of my very first Masses at the parish,” she said.
“I was 16, so homesick and I was crying.
“I took refuge in the familiarity of Mass and I always found a piece of home in the Eucharist.
“We have moved (to) locations all over Shepparton but always consider St. Brendan’s home.
“This parish is where we planted our roots. This is where we got married and where both our kids have been baptised.”
Jobelle’s faith played an important role in helping her compete in The Amazing Race Australia.
“My Dad and I got through the 14-day quarantine by tuning in to daily Mass from different parishes,” she said.
“I did devotionals to fill in quarantine time.
“During the race, my dad and I would often get together in the mornings and say a prayer together.
“I had the litany of trust in my bum bag and sometimes Dad and I would pray it together or on our own.”
The intensity of the experience meant that sometimes it was difficult to sleep.
“Sometimes I would have only three to four hours broken sleep in total and I would pray the rosary to wind down and if I woke up in the middle of the night,” Jobelle said.
“I have never prayed the Rosary five times in one sitting until I was trying to shake off all the adrenaline running through my body after a tough day of racing.
“During the race also, I offered up a lot of my struggles for other people’s intentions.”
At one point prior to their actual elimination, Jobelle thought that their involvement in the show was over.
“There was a time on the race when we were serving a 30-minute penalty on the mat,” she said.
“This penalty could see us eliminated on the very first leg.
“But Fr Dean (Bongat of Wodonga) pointed out to me that sometimes in life when we have done everything and given it our all, there’s nothing else to do but wait.
“Being Christians means that we do not wait in desperation but we wait in hope.
“To my Dad and I, we did what we could and if we went home that day, we knew that God had a plan on the other side of that too.
“Thankfully our time on the race wasn’t over, so we were able to continue racing a few more legs.”
With a hefty cash prize available for the winner of The Amazing Race Australia, Jobelle said that their faith challenged them.
“A lot of people were willing to do what it takes,” she said.
“God calls us to love and for us that means that we didn’t want to lie, cheat or steal or play a dirty game.
“We refused to steal taxis, stopped our own race to help others with their tasks and we followed the rules by the book.
“This is not the way everyone else played the race but for us, no matter how much we wanted to win, being true to ourselves and who God called us to be was worth more than any money this world could give.”
Jackson Saunders is a fifth-year seminarian of the Diocese of Sandhurst.
Reproduced with permission from SandPiper e-News, the online news publication of the Diocese of Sandhurst.