Rebooting the blog

It’s unintended, but very appropriate, that I’m writing this post from Merri Street in Warrnambool, overlooking Lake Pertobe. My view at present is the very pleasant vista which was this blog’s original background:

That coincidence makes this is a very good place to reboot my blog! In recent months I haven’t blogged much at all. It seems all my time is spent in prayer and pastoral work and driving. I’m rarely at my desk. But for the next month, that changes.

Four weeks ago, on the afternoon of Palm Sunday, I was booked for excessive speed. I was travelling 28 kph over the speed limit – unintentionally I hasten to add – which in Victoria warrants automatic suspension of one’s driver’s license for a month. Fortunately, the suspension comes into force 28 days after the offence, so I was still able to drive during Holy Week!

But now I am grounded. When I informed my parish priest and my bishop, they both remarked that I’d better find some good friends who can act as drivers. A good suggestion. I’ve organised all that, and I’ll be able to get to Sunday Masses, and funerals, and sick calls, as normal. But all other movement is restricted, which means the time I previously spent in my three far flung parishes, and the hours I spent driving to those far flung parishes, will instead be spent in Casterton.

There are many benefits to this arrangement. I will actually live in Casterton for a while – as opposed to sleeping in Casterton at nights. I can walk from the church to the town each morning, and buy a few things at the supermarket. Stop for a coffee in one of the cafes. Chat with the locals. Maybe even drop into the bottom pub for a beer every evening. (The trading hours of the top pub and the middle pub are more haphazard; fortunately for me the bottom pub is closer to home.)

There’s a big advantage to a priest living among his people. You can connect much more; the ministry of presence has a surprising impact. But unfortunately, the tyranny of distance and the shortage of priests have conspired to make it nigh impossible for country priests to live this out. To my surprise, the life of a country priest is more hectic and disconnected than the life of a city priest.

Another benefit is that I will spend much more time at my desk. That’s good for the administration of my parishes, and for planning, and for my blog. I can write again!

I am hopeful that my month of limited movement will help me to permanently foster more order. I think I’ve been running around too much, expending my energy inefficiently. After all, who drives at 128 kph accidentally, when they’re not even in a hurry? Only someone who isn’t living an ordered life.

Here is the right order of priorities, I think, for any disciple of Jesus, lay or ordained:

1. God.
2. Self-care.
3. Family and friends.
4. Work.

I suspect many people put work first, or maybe second after God. Then comes family and friends, and self-care is the lowest priority. That might seem like noble unselfishness, and sometimes it may well be, but it isn’t very smart. Prioritising self-care isn’t selfish when it optimises a person’s ability to serve others.

Maybe my own order has been a bit skewed. By physically slowing down, I think I can work smarter, not harder, and my prayer and work will be more fruitful. This blog will be a good measure of that. Stay tuned!

  • I hope it goes well Fr John, I’ve recently been trying to reprioritise and establish order in my life as well after being literally and figuratively ‘grounded’ – not by a speeding offence though! I look forward to reading your blog posts.

  • Congratulations on being grounded, Fr. John. I’ve also been ‘in detention’ for a couple of months, due an injury. In the big picture of things, I knew it came from my Father and He wanted me to spend more time with Him. It’s good to hear that you’re enjoying your slower pace and renewed focus. We missed your blogposts!

  • Suesan

    Maybe we might be able to catch up with you now you are BASED in Casterton. I think for most of us no matter our age or position with our ever changing lives it is a constant that we check and reprioritize our lives. Some of us are forced into this position by circumstances but as you have pointed out ” by physically slowing down we can work smarter” I like the fact that you are honest and you always look for the Silver Lining because it is there. ? P.S John had his 81st birthday Saturday. We were invited out for dinner at a friends place, a good night was had by all.

  • MuMu

    You need the rest, Father John. Give up bi-locating for a few weeks. God is good.

  • Florence

    Fr John, I agree with you about the following.
    1. God.
    2. Self-care.
    3. Family and friends.
    4. Work.
    I kinda like your parish priest and bishop. They are very understanding and not condemning. Who is perfect?

  • Desmond

    Fr. Corrigan, I dealt with this for many years. Wife and 6 children. I was on the road at least half of the time, in U.S. and abroad – particularly South America. My family paid a price, and so did I. I highly commend you adjusting to this ‘new way’ – even if only for 30 days. You cannot serve others to your fullest potential if you are constantly on the run. I learned that the hard way – but only when I was much older than you are now. God is good. He has given you both pause and time to reflect on these things.

    All my love in Christ

    Desmond from U.S.A.

  • Mark Gliddon

    An excellent and well thought out article as always Father. You will remain in my prayers in your somewhat enforced hiatus. A revaluation of one’s priorities is always a good thing and I hope you will emerge from the end of the month more rested and focused on what may come next for you.

  • Anne. Lastman

    Hi Fr John I just discovered I have lost 3 demerit points I’m told I was speeding 27 kms over limit. But I didn’t even know. Normally one is aware that something has happened but I wasn’t I’m going to check out place because the street mentioned is a short street and impossible to speed. I’m confused I feel for you. God bless.

  • Simon Hogan

    Well tomorrow it is big day for my home town where I still live in Warrnambool The Grand Annual Steeplechase 5500! People flock from all ove the world and watch it on the hill!
    Here are some stories! One of the story is mine!
    My tips for tomorrow Race1no7 Race2no12, Race3no16, Race4no5 and 10, Race5no1, Race6no5and 9! Race7no9and 12, Race8no3and 12! Race9no13 Race10no5 and 15! All of these are Eachway! Enjoy the day! Might see you on the hill watching the Grand Annual! Keep Well from Simon the Pieman.

  • Simon Hogan

    Hello well the Casterton Cup is on this Sunday!They are famous for their steeplechase track great viewing from the hill!
    Anyway I found a little quote from Mother Teresa of Calcutta
    Our lady is my companion on my tours… I had asked the father at Berhampur, after bringing my sisters there,to give me a big statue of the Miraculous Virgin with arms extended downward and palms open, sending graces to the world. He did so, packed it well in a large case and the statue; but I refused. ‘I have a pass for myself and a compnion’, I said ‘Here is my companion.
    It is the statue of Mother Mary and she travels with me as companion’. They let me take her without praying extra for the freight of the box. Since then I say our Lady is my travelling companion. I am never alone.

    Now some history today back in 1803 the first authorised public Catholic Mass in Australia Sydney in Castle Hill.
    All of this information is in the book Finding God’s Traces by Michael McGirr.
    I put some tips for Sunday later in the week keep well from Simon the Pieman.

  • Simon Hogan

    Well tomorrow there are big races all ove the the country side plus Casterton on Sunday!
    Race2No5 Tunes
    Race3No15 Let’s Twist
    Race7No4 and 14 Churhill Dancer and Super One

    Race2No1 Reemah
    Race6No4. Every Faith
    Race9No15 The New Boy

    Race5No1.Charmed Harmony
    Race2No15 Promas
    Race8No9 Havasay
    Good luck and happy punting and have a great weekend!

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