A fond farewell for Father Daniel
ON MONDAY, Father Daniel Paulraj will leave the only place he's ever felt at home since he left India many years ago.
"I'm going to miss Gladstone," he said.
"I had a real relationship with the people in the church and the community.
"It has been like a family to me."
Father Daniel said when he arrived in 2010 he was immediately accepted.
"I could walk around at night and go to a coffee shop and be invited in for cuppa," he said.
"There was always someone there happy to chat.
"Gladstone is a place that I can be me.
"I don't need to wear my collar and I think I'm going to miss that."
He said he'd seen some big changes during his nine years.
"When I came here, times were booming," Father Daniel said.
"Then it fell down, bust. That's when I knew I was needed here.
"To help people who were struggling, not just spiritually but physically."
To meet the needs of his new community, Father Daniel immediately set to work.
"The first thing we did was start the Breakfast Club at the schools," he said.
"In 2014 we started the soup kitchen, which now feeds up to 60 people each week.
"Six months ago we started the food bank and up to 50people a day come to us to get food.
"Then we started the men's shelter, a domestic violence prevention centre, to provide a place for men to take some time out to cool down."
Father Daniel was glowing in his praise for the many eager volunteers assisting him.
"People are a big blessing to the church," he said.
"Like Christmas Day - we regularly have 20 people turn up to help.
"That's the sort of community spirit we have here."
On Sunday, the church will officially farewell Father Daniel.
"I will be commissioned as a priest in Brisbane next week and moving to a bigger congregation in Chermside."
He admits the time he spent here has gone much quicker than expected.
"I hope Gladstone has a bright future," Father Daniel said.
"Gladstone people, once they trust you, they will do anything for you.
"I will miss it, but I will visit."
Father Daniel will be farewelled at a morning service at St Saviour's Anglican Church tomorrow at 9am.