People of Helping Hand: Max – Helping Hand

People of Helping Hand: Max

Max, who lives in one of our retirement units in Whyalla, has a story that reads like a novel. He has been a road engineer; a high school teacher and he was a Catholic priest for three decades.

People of Helping Hand Max

Max first visited Whyalla, the traditional home of the Barngarla people, in October 1988.

‘Whyalla had a magic about it back then. Beautiful blue skies. It was different to anywhere else. It had a life of its own and it was a goer’, says Max.

Those precious days, camping along the foreshore, looking across the ocean, made a profound impression on him.

‘I remember saying to myself that one day I will have to come back here’, says Max.

In fact, he returned to Sydney where he was Chaplain of West Mead Hospital. What followed was one of the most rewarding periods of his life in the Church.

‘I had entered the Church in the 1960s, a period when everything was changing, and the Church was on the move and part of that change. By the 1990s, I had personally come to feel that the Church and I were going in different directions, and we were pulling apart’, he says.

Eventually, Max and the Church came to a parting of the ways.

‘Everyone was asking me what I was going to do and thought, well, I’m free now, free to think my own thoughts and to go my own way, so I’ll go back to Whyalla.’

Which is exactly what he did in December 2000. He returned to Whyalla, during a sweltering heatwave and the house he was going to live in was dirty and riddled with white ants and mice. He persevered, built up a garden from scratch and stayed there for eleven years. ‘I was happy. I loved Whyalla’, he says.

In 2011, Max moved into a retirement unit. His began creating a garden oasis around his new home and today it is filled with tranquil shady spots and the sounds of bird song. ‘Life is about the long term, faith in the future, faith in life and taking the long view’, says Max.

‘Someone once told me that there’s room for anyone in Whyalla, if you come just as you are, without pretenses. There was room for me, and if there was room for me, there’s room for anyone’, says Max

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