Father Paul William Pidcock - OAM
THE entire Woodlawn community recently joined inside the St John's chapel for an emotional farewell commemorating Father John Pidcock's six decades of study and service so it is no surprise he has been nominated for an Order of Australia for services to the Catholic Church.
Except to the man himself.
"I was surprised I was nominated. I was really grateful and I feel it is an honour to get some recognition for the work I have done over the years,” he said.
"It is an affirmation and acknowledgement to teachers and those involved in education for the work they do. I regard it as very important.”
World War II was still raging when young Paul Pidcock first arrived at St John's College as a 12-year-old boarding student in 1944. Fr Paul went to the Marist seminary in Toongabbie in 1949 and was ordained at St Patrick's at Church Hill in Sydney in 1956. He moved back to teach at St John's College in 1957.
Colleagues and students at the farewell ceremony spoke of Fr Pidcock's generosity, great sense of humour, prayerfulness and devoted presence during his 60 years of service at the school.
Described as "the face of Christ in our midst”, Fr Paul was praised for his contribution to many parishes and the wider Northern Rivers community.
For 12 years from 2000 he took on a part-time role as chaplain at Grafton Correctional Centre.
"I really see that as a very important and worthwhile ministry, I never felt threatened or in danger. I found if you gave people respect they would give you respect. I got on very well with the inmates,” he said.
Since his retirement, Fr Pidcock, 87, now lives in the community at Hunters Hill with 17 other priests where he is involved with the parish at St Patrick's at Church Hill.
He said he has never doubted his vocation and was "blessed with a faith that helped (him) all through (his) life”.