By JEREMY LIPTON | FEBRUARY 04, 2020 07:15:22For those who grew up in the Catholic church, there are few things more unsettling than leaving home to attend Mass at a Catholic parish.
It can be a lonely and terrifying experience.
But for one priest, it was his life-changing decision to leave his family home for the first time in decades, with his children, in the middle of a drought-stricken and remote part of Australia.
When I first started to notice the heat and humidity I thought I would be sick, said priest Peter J. Gavaghan, the bishop of the remote community of Mount Hope in Western Australia.
The first time I went outside, I didn’t feel very well, he said.
But then I got a sense of relief, when the humidity went down and I felt a little bit better.
The priest went from being a single father of three young boys, to living the Catholic way in the desert.
He said he felt the most joy, joy that came from seeing his church grow, while the people around him did not.
“I feel it is a really beautiful experience for the community,” he said, describing the church as “very small and very remote.”
He has been at Mount Hope for about a year, and said he was in no rush to return home.
But when he was asked about his experience, he responded: “It’s a pretty good one.”
I’m so glad I made the decision to go,” he told the ABC.
I felt a sense at the end of my life that I could be a part of this church, he added.
I can feel the joy that comes from being with this community, he told ABC.
Gavaghan said he and his wife, who were expecting their second child, had moved to Mount Hope from another part of Western Australia, where they had lived for years. “
I was in this position where I couldn’t go, so I felt like I was leaving this very special place.”
Gavaghan said he and his wife, who were expecting their second child, had moved to Mount Hope from another part of Western Australia, where they had lived for years.
But this was their first trip to the remote part, where the climate is more variable.
“We are very fortunate, but it’s not as simple as it seems,” he explained.
“It’s not like there is no water, there’s no water to drink, there is a very small amount of food, there was a little snow, there were some little bits of mud in the ground.”
The people are very respectful of the place and they do a good job.
“In the desert, they saw no other way to get food and water.
It is not just Mount Hope, where Gavagan said there are many other small towns and villages around.”
When I’m out in the bush, people will stop and take photos of the road and look at the waterfalls,” he noted.
He said while the heat was great in the remote area, it wasn’t the same in the capital city of Darwin, which is also in the dry season.”
There was just no water,” he remarked.”
It was very dry in the city, but when I went out to the village, the temperatures were still up, it felt like the summer.
“But the locals love it, they’re very respectful, and they don’t want to leave.”
The priest said he had been working in the community for about 15 years, teaching a Catholic school and working in a Catholic hospital, and had spent a lot of time with his community.
But when he returned home, he was stunned by the change in people, he revealed.
They were “totally different”.
“It is a big change to be out of the family, but that was something I was looking forward to,” he added, before adding that he felt like he had missed the “big family” he was used to.
“A lot of the people in the church, it’s a small community.
They have kids and grandkids, and there’s not really any support structure.
I felt very disconnected.”
I had been in a long-term relationship for 10 years, and the kids were very well-adjusted, he noted, but “the community has moved on, and I haven’t really felt any different.”
The priest hopes his decision will encourage others to follow in his footsteps, by moving away from a traditional religious community.
“My experience, in Mount Hope and other places, has been that the church is not a place where you’re going to be welcomed.
You are going to have to be ready to be rejected, he explained, adding that the only way to change is to find a way to be a better person, and not a better human being.
Gavagan is the bishop at Mount Lilliput, a remote community on the banks of the Great Barrier Reef, near the Australian border.
In a recent sermon