The class of one about to become a priest

Peter Street is often questioned on two things.

Firstly his name – some think it’s his address –  and secondly his vocation.

“People ask me constantly why I am doing this, especially now, but I have no doubts,” Mr Street, 33, said.

“My mind just doesn’t work that way.”

Mr Street is the only seminarian progressing through his formation to become a priest within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Tonight he will celebrate his rite of admission for candidacy for holy orders during a service at St Joseph’s Church, East Maitland.

“I’m it. I am the entire student body and I haven’t known anything different, so I don’t have anything to compare it to,” he said. “But there have been times in the past few years, for obvious reasons, when it would have been nice to have had somebody to talk to.”

Born in Kurri Kurri, Mr Street grew up in Weston and was educated through the public school system. The priesthood, he recalls, beckoned from an early age.

“I was quite young, a child, when I realised this is what I wanted to do. I remember being at Mass one day and being very, very impressed with the parish priest and thinking what a good man he was and I wanted to be like that and live a life of service for others,” he said.

“And this feeling just didn’t go away despite me trying to make it go away for some time. But I realised I needed to respond positively to the call from God.”

A call the former nurse believes will now include a large role in helping those in the ­aftermath of horrific clergy abuse.

“What has happened has been, and is, ­probably the most evil things that could be done,” Mr Street said.

“It is horrible and vile and I don’t understand it. But it has not made me question my faith and it’s not made me lose faith in God or the church.

“We, as priests, need to be there to see the victims are helped as much as possible and to ensure that this never happens again.

“If we need to go through this time to heal the wounds of the past and to ensure that children are safe so be it.”

Mr Street is hoping to be ordained deacon and priest next year.

“What I find most rewarding is just being with people. I get to be with people in the 

happiest and the saddest times of their lives. I used to think being a priest was about doing, but really it is about presence and getting to share people’s lives, their stories and their journey.”

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