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From quiet achiever to gifted pastor

Features

With interstate travel restrictions forcing family and friends to watch Archbishop O’Regan’s installation online, The Southern Cross asked his siblings – Stephen, Laurence and Louise – to provide some insights into their brother’s journey to the priesthood and episcopacy.

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Growing up did you ever imagine that your brother would end up a priest, let alone a bishop and now an archbishop?

Growing up Patrick was always a quiet achiever. He worked hard academically, and it was in this field the family thought Patrick may have ventured with sciences, space and air being a few of his particular interests.

Patrick was always well liked and an approachable person; during any activity that he participated in, whether it be, work, sport or the Air Cadets, he always embraced things with enthusiasm.

It became clear to our family throughout his journey in the seminary that he was embracing his vocation in the same way and as such it was no surprise at his success as a parish priest. Being chosen to become a bishop seemed like the next logical step but to be chosen an archbishop is very exciting for our family and also to the community from where he came. Having had three bishops (Bishops Kevin Manning, Alfred Gummer and Patrick O’Regan) chosen from this area, and one of those two now an archbishop, seems somewhat overwhelming.

Do you recall when he first talked about becoming a priest? What was your reaction, and that of your parents?

We’re not sure when he started first talking about becoming a priest and it was somewhat of a surprise that he chose a religious pathway rather than one of academia. However, it seemed by the time he was ready to join the seminary it had indeed become his chosen vocation or, as some would say, it chose him.

Our parents were somewhat hesitant at him entering the seminary straight out of school at such a young age but soon discovered that Patrick was not only very determined to get started with his vocation but it was in this realm that he thrived.

We are sure that they would be so very proud of his achievements as is the rest of our family and anyone who knows him.

How would you best describe Patrick’s style of ministry?

Patrick is somewhat of an introvert and he had to learn to reach out and engage with people both within and out of his ministry. This he soon discovered led those he came into contact with him to be absolutely enamoured by him and he in turn with them. This, it seems, is his greatest gift which is that of being able to ‘dine with kings and sit with paupers’.

This style of ministry seems to touch everyone with whom he comes into contact. It does not limit his audience but broadens it and seems to further enhance his faith and depth of character that continues to build trust in the Church and those associated with it. Embracing modern technology and methods of communication as well as being well-read allows him the freedom to draw those that need comfort to him.

Patrick on the day of his First Communion in 1966.

Patrick in his school uniform in 1968.

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