Fr Andrew Doohan appointed as Vicar General of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Bishop Bill Wright appointed Fr Andrew Doohan, Dean of Sacred Heart Cathedral, as Vicar General for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Fr Andrew is Chair of the Diocesan Liturgy Council and Master of Ceremonies to Bishop Bill. This appointment means that Fr Andrew will become a member of the Diocesan Leadership Group.

Fr Andrew hails from Casino and was ordained in 2007. He then became parish priest of St Benedict’s, Inner Newcastle, and Dean, in 2015.

As Bishop Michael pointed out in his homily, Andrew’s call was not one that he could answer instantly. “Some of you may say, ‘It’s a pity he wasn’t ordained years ago when he finished his studies! Why has it taken him so long?’ To say such things is not to understand the process of a call to follow Jesus….The truth is: perhaps Andrew wasn’t ready years ago to respond to Jesus’ call.”

Completing his Higher School Certificate in 1985, he worked in banking and finance for several years, then embarked on studies for the priesthood in 1992. While he did not proceed to ordination then, he did gain valuable experience in a variety of church-related fields: ‘chaplain’ at St John of God Hospital Burwood and St Vincent’s Darlinghurst, project manager for a church computerisation project and office administrator at Carlingford parish.

While answering the call was a prolonged process, Andrew can isolate a moment when the notion took hold: “I can remember, clear as day, Sunday evening Mass at the cathedral at Lismore, which was a ‘young people’s Mass’, thinking that priesthood would be something I could do.” Looking back, he sees that diverse experiences – work, study, relationships, travel, pursuing good music and good coffee! – all contributed to his formation, as effectively as the seminary years.

Andrew spent the last two and a half years, leading to and following ordination to diaconate, in the Parish of East Lake Macquarie (formerly Belmont, Swansea and Windale parishes). The opportunity to test the call to priesthood, day by day, was instrumental in helping him, ultimately, to say ‘yes’. That time also allowed him to get to know the diocese, people and priests, and to feel part of the diocesan community.

Andrew looks forward to ministering in Raymond Terrace and Bulahdelah, with the guidance of parish priest, Fr Derek Garner. He will particularly relish exploring
the possibilities that liturgy offers. In gaining his Masters degree, he majored in liturgy, so the parishes where he serves will certainly benefit from his expertise.

While Andrew is very well qualified academically for priesthood, he recognises that it is at the local level that most people experience church, and so it is the day to day rhythm of parish life that you need to “get right”. When I spoke to him just after ordination, he was full of anticipation for the ‘day to day’ experiences that priest and people share.

While he admitted that there were always doubts and questions, “There is a powerful sense that this is what I’m supposed to do. The day I stop questioning is the day I’m ready to be rolled into the grave, because the questions allow me to say ‘yes’, again and again and again….for me, nothing else makes sense.”

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Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is a member of the Raymond Terrace Parish and a freelance writer with a particular interest in church matters.

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John Kingsley-Jones

John Kingsley-Jones was the Head of Diocesan Communications from September 2017 to July 2019.