Monday, 8th July, 2019
By Myles Burt
The Catholic Church in Broken Hill was run off his feet last month because of a spike in funerals and baptisms.
Father Dominic Popplewell, the only resident priest for Broken Hill, performs services in two churches in the Silver City as well as Wilcannia and Menindee.
He said June 23 was particularly busy and he could not be in two places at once when his services were required.
“So things like that do happen because there’s only one priest, but we do have at the moment a Deacon resident here as well,” Father Popplewell said.
“He’s able to conduct funerals and he’s an ordained minister as well.
“We’re doing very well in terms of having both a priest and a deacon, whereas most of our parishes are lucky if they even have a priest.”
The priest and Deacon Ravi Muvvala have shared the load between funerals, marriages and baptisms, according to Father Popplewell.
There was a large demand for baptisms in June, too.
“So I guess it’s both sides of life,” he said.
Father Popplewell said the Wilcannia Forbes Diocese could easily do with more priests joining their ranks.
But a small population within a large area has always led to a smaller number of priests, compared to metropolitan areas like Sydney and Melbourne.
“It’s actually been the case from the beginning of the Diocese that there haven’t been a lot of priests around,” he said.
Curtis Family Funerals director Mark Curtis said June was a very busy month for funerals.
Broken Hill had 32 funerals in June, which is way above the local average, according to Mr Curtis.
“The average is about 3.75 deaths per week,” Mr Curtis said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that single priest couldn’t keep up with the flow.”
Mr Curtis said during the unusually busy month, his funeral service hasn’t had any issues in finding a priest to conduct funeral ceremonies.