The Good Shepherd parish of Mount Isa gets its priest back this week after Father Mick Lowcock was honoured at the episcopal ordination of the new Townsville bishop Tim Harris.
Father Mick has been standing in as leader for the past three years, and received a standing ovation last week for his dedication to the double role.
He signed up the challenge in 2014 when he was appointed diocesan administrator after the death of Bishop Michael Putney.
Sticking to his commitments, Father Mick has continued his priestly duties in Mount Isa, flying between the two centres weekly.
Father Mick began the proceedings at the ordination of the new bishop, who had some words to say about his stand-in.
In his closing message Bishop Harris thanked Father Mick before insisting he take a holiday.
“And finally, it would be quite remiss of me not to make mention of one man who has led this diocese so well as its administrator for the past three years and more,” Bishop Harris said.
“Father Mick, you have done a superb job and the people of Townsville and the universal church owe you a great debt.
Bishop Harris said Father Mick showed wonderful leadership in the church while keeping it “on the front foot as it patiently waited for its new bishop.”
He then went on to order Father Mick to take a break, and made fun of his never ending work schedule.
“Mick you need a holiday and a rest,” Bishop Harris said.
“I don’t mind when and where you go as long as I can ring you 24 hours a day, seven days a week if the need arises.
“I will be relying on your wisdom and local knowledge for many years to come,” Bishop Harris said.
Father Mick will continue his 24 year ministry in Mount Isa after his suggested holiday is complete.
He heads off to Leuven, Belgium at the end of May for a two week intensive with Townsville Catholic Education on Catholic identity in its schools and parishes.
Father Mick will then take a couple of weeks off to travel and visit some priest friends in Northern Ireland he met while on long-service leave 10 years ago.