AFTER 47 years as a priest, beloved Bundaberg Parish priest Father John Daly has just a few weeks before he retires.
Fr Daly's need to help people has made his service as a priest one of endless possibilities.
Fr Daly described becoming a priest like falling in love - "unexplainable".
"It's hard to know, I just had this feeling that it was something I should try it, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do really, so I tried it," he said.
"It's unexplainable, I think it's almost like when two people are in love you can say 'I wonder why he loves her and she loves him' it's unexplainable, it's something in you.
"I suppose I just wanted to help people and I've had a very fortunate and interesting life."
For about eight years he was in charge of youth ministry in the diocese, helping homeless youth.
"I was helping homeless youth and in fact I lived in a hostel with them for a while which was pretty hard at times," he said.
"It was a time when a lot of young people were leaving and orphanages were closing down.
"There were big crowds of people in those days, I'd run a camp and there would be 400 young people who'd left school."
While one of the highlights of his career was to come back home to Bundaberg, Fr Daly said getting to study in England and travel to Ireland in the early 90s was quite an adventure.
"I spent two years in England doing study on human development, spirituality and counselling, which has enabled me to give retreats to priest groups throughout Australia and New Zealand which has been a great experience.
"I had some friends up in Belfast and it was really interesting because soldiers were still roaming the streets then," he said.
"It was very very different, I went over and did a funeral in Belfast and they carried the coffin through the streets, it's so different to what we do.
"The soldiers would just be everywhere, I still remember seeing a friend of mine's niece, the soldiers were all in the street and this little girl was coming towards us just dancing through the soldiers with all their guns and I remember thinking, that's all she's known - it was sad but at the same time she didn't take any notice of it."
Fr Daly said he loved parish life and the parish he worked in but is retiring because of health reasons.
"Usually we can retire at 70, I've just turned 72, but also my health hasn't been so good, it's a lot better now and I could have kept going but I just didn't think it was fair to the people," he said.
"There's more freedom now to do other things - there's a lot of things I'll keep doing with the church but also do some community as well.
"There's a lot of people in Bundaberg who are really involved in the community, probably more so than anywhere else I'd say."
Fr Daly said in his retirement he'll have more time to catch up with family and school mates still in Bundaberg.
Fr Daly will retire on May 14.
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