During his holidays from the seminary, Perthville’s own Father Patrick O’Regan pulled beers at the Majellan Club, carted feed and cut cauliflowers in the local market gardens. In the new year he will be installed as the Bishop of Sale, in Victoria.
Fr Pat said he was given the news on Friday when he was called to Canberra by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
The summons came as a surprise.
“I didn’t think it was to look at his stamp collection,” Fr Pat said.
The 56-year-old priest said while he has held a lot of roles in the diocese, this is not something he ever wanted for himself.
“You know what they say – if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,” he said.
Fr Pat, who is always quick with a joke and a song, said while there are some administrative duties involved, ultimately being a bishop is about working with people.
“Pope Francis said bishops should have the smell of the sheep on them,” he grinned.
“He was saying that ultimately being a bishop is about getting in there and working with people. Being a country boy, that suits me just fine.”
Fr Pat, who was born at Bathurst Hospital, was one of four siblings. His parents owned the Perthville Shop and Garage.
He joined the seminary straight from school in 1977 and was ordained as a priest in the Cathedral of St Michael and St John in Bathurst in 1983.
Fr Pat is the second Catholic bishop to have come from Perthville. The other Perthville lad was Fr Alfred Gummer, who was installed as the Bishop of Geraldton in 1943.
Fr Pat said in his role as bishop he intends to be an advocate for those who have no voice.
“A bishop must also make connections in life and see the beauty of things,” he said.
Fr Pat said he entered the priesthood because the idea of giving your life for others, that spoke to him.
“It also chooses you to a point, and if you choose it back, you start to dance,” he said.
His diocese will be a mix of rural and metropolitan parishes.
He said it is half the size of the Bathurst Diocese, which is not hard as the Bathurst Diocese is the size of Iceland.
Fr Pat has served in nine different parishes – twice in Bathurst. He also spent two years studying in Paris.
He said he is sad to be leaving because he has developed so many wonderful friendships here.
Fr Pat will see Christmas out in Bathurst and will move to Victoria in the new year.
“My experience is that wherever you go people are good,” he said.
“If you give with all your heart, you find you get much more back than you ever give.”