I grew up in the river city of Whanganui. I attended St Joseph’s primary school, Marist Intermediate and St Augustine’s College for my secondary schooling. When I was growing up, my favourite sports were rugby and cricket. I was the wicket keeper for my college cricket team. I played rugby in the forwards and represented Whanganui playing against other teams from around New Zealand. Jonah Lomu was one of my rugby heroes. I loved to watch him run fast down the side-line and score tries for the All Blacks.
I was brought up with a belief in God and his love for me. My Dad was a strong Catholic so the family would always attend Sunday Mass. As I got older, I wanted to know more about my faith, so I started to attend church study groups and retreats. I learnt how Jesus loved me so much he took my place on the cross for my sins and wants me to be happy with him in heaven when I die. Later, I became a youth group leader so that I could help young people learn about the good news of God’s love for us.
I enjoyed my years at primary school and college, so I decided at the end of Year 13 that I wanted to try teaching as a career. I went to Massey University in Palmerston North and after four years completed a degree in Te Reo Maori. Then I spent a further year learning how to be a teacher at Teachers’ College. I was appointed to my first job as a high school teacher at Tawa College in Wellington.
I spent many years teaching and even though it was hard work and stressful sometimes, I enjoyed teaching very much. I liked to help young people achieve to their potential. I was even able to carry on my love of rugby by helping coach a college rugby team.
After some years teaching, I felt God calling me deep in my heart to be a priest and serve his people. This happened slowly and gradually over time. I dismissed the idea several times making lots of excuses to myself not to do it. I thought I would just keep teaching, but God persisted asking me.
The turning point came four years ago when my Mum died very suddenly in front of me. My life was turned upside down. It was a Monday morning just before I was about to go to school. Her passing was very unexpected and led to a long time of grieving for me and my family. Eventually I made the decision that I needed to do what God had been nagging me to do for quite a while, and answer his call to start training to be a priest.
Many people – priests, parishioners, family – have helped me in my discernment and encouraged me to give priesthood a go. I’m an ordinary Kiwi guy… I love rugby, I love cricket, going out with the boys and having a drink… but God calls average Kiwi guys, and He has called me to serve and to give His love to His people.