Fr Robert Sheridan ministers to the faithful in the most western point of the Diocese of Parramatta.
He travels several hundred kilometres a week around the expanse of his parish of Sacred Heart, Blackheath.
Now, he has been recognised for the wonderful work he does.
Fr Bob, as he prefers to be called, has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours List for service to the Catholic Church of Australia.
Awarded by the Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, the Australian honours system appointment to the order of Australia confer the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service, according to the Australian government.
Ordained to the priesthood at the age of 71, Fr Bob served in the Upper Blue Mountains Parish for three years, before being appointed as parish priest in Blackheath, a position he has held for ten years.
“I’m staggered by it. I’m still getting over it,” Fr Bob told Catholic Outlook.
“I found out that I was being considered for the award in April when I opened an envelope from the Governor General. I thought it was for me to act as a referee one someone else’s nomination, not my own.
“It was only ten days ago that I receive the confirmation letter that the Governor-General had signed off on my nomination,” he said.
The process has been a long time in the making, with a group of parishioners making initial contact to nominate Fr Bob as far back as October 2018.
“I never had any inkling that this was happening. I’m treading on new ground,” Fr Bob said.
“We’re a family up here, so it was surprising how the nomination was kept so quiet. But I think that over time, I’ll find out which parishioners nominated me.
“I’m quite surprised at how quickly and widely knowledge of my recipient of the award has become. An old friend from another era contacted me [on Monday night], and I hadn’t spoken to him in around 35 years,” he laughed.
Fr Bob believes that even though he has a new title, it will not change his ministry to those whom he serves.
“It’s situation normal for me. Nothing is going to change,” he said.
Fr Bob will receive his insignia during a ceremony at the NSW Government House later in the year.