Lifestyle

To celebrate 80, Fr

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March 10, 2018

World Prayer Day With Father Tink JL

“You have to get to know people on their territory,” he said.

“The canteen and the sporting grounds are the kid’s territory, so that’s where I go.”

Fr Tink studied to be a priest in Sydney and only spent three years as a civilian before he was required to serve as a chaplain in the army.

He has fond memories as a man of the cloth in the armed forces; the mateship and camaraderie are things Fr Tink will never forget.

“The first couple of months were tough but I enjoyed it after that,” he said

“I joined when I was 28 and left when I got too old for it at 55.

“I spent a year in Vietnam as part of the First Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and the rest of my time in the army was spent helping families who had someone fighting overseas.”

Fr Tink said delivering death messages to family at home was one of the toughest parts of his job as an enlisted chaplain.

He developed a method of writing letters to family to comfort them and provide fond memories of their lost loved one.

“When we lost someone I would talk to their mates and find out what kind of person they were and what everyone thought of them,” he said.

“I would put that in the letter and I found families appreciated it much more than just a cold letter saying what had happened.

“I got a lot of responses from family members who were happy knowing what an important member of the team their loved one was.”

After leaving the army, Fr Tink battled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as did many people who returned from Vietnam.

The condition meant he had problems talking to people or even leaving the house.

“I found myself going for walks at midnight so I didn’t have to see anyone,” he said.

“It’s a horrible condition that I still don’t fully understand. You can’t talk to people about it because it doesn’t make sense to them.

“I started seeing a psychiatrist and slowly worked through most of it. That allowed me to take on the job at St Joseph’s’’.

The role at the school suits Fr Tink perfectly, he gets to interact with a range of people and watch as students grow into members of society.

“I’ve always been a people person. My role at the school allows me to connect with people and that’s why I’ve never wanted to leave,” he said.

‘‘The staff and students and the wider community have been so welcoming and I couldn’t ask for anything better.’’

As for retirement, the 80-year-old scoffed at the concept.

“I want to meet and help people. You can’t do that staring at the four walls in your house.”

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