Outback challenge for confirmed city dweller

Carmel Pattinson SGS

For a self-confessed extrovert who has lived in the city for 40 years, it can be challenging to come to terms with the isolation of a ministry based in western Queensland, but Carmel Pattinson SGS says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

- The Good Oil

'It’s vast. It’s huge. But it’s exciting,' Carmel says of her sprawling new assignment. 'My friends come out from the city to see that I’m surviving,' she laughs. 'But despite the challenges of the heat, the isolation, and the mosquitoes, I’m quite passionate about the ministry. I’ve got no doubt in my heart that this is the ministry for me and I’ll find ways around the challenges.'

Richmond is located 500 kilometres west of Townsville, midway between Mount Isa and Townsville. The town has a population of 1,000, but Carmel’s ministry extends beyond the township to the people on the vast network of outlying properties in the Hughenden, Julia Creek and Richmond areas. It is a return to her home state of Queensland and to the diocese in which she grew up, prompted in part by a desire to be nearer to her 91-year-old mother, now living in aged care in Ayr.

'I grew up in Ayr (88 kilometres south of Townsville on the delta of the Burdekin River), where our family home remains in the family today,' she says. 'So I’ve been a country bumpkin, living in the city for 40 years.'

Carmel is the second eldest of nine children and was educated by the Good Samaritan Sisters at St Francis School Ayr for Years 1 to 10, and at St Mary’s Charters Towers where she completed Years 11 and 12. After leaving school, she went to teachers’ college in Brisbane for 12 months before entering the Good Samaritan convent in 1969.

'And I haven’t looked back really. I had wonderful formation and I’ve had great and varied opportunities all the way through,' she says. Carmel continued her teacher education with the Good Sams and then taught for five years at Avalon and Dee Why on Sydney’s northern beaches before moving to Melbourne and embarking on parish ministry at St Mary’s Thornbury.

FULL STORY City dweller makes home in Qld outback

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