Mr. Paul Pinel
Meet Paul Pinel
My parents lived through the depression in a room in Newtown. Dad was out of work, mum was out of work, and in 1935 I was born. The only food we had was from the Good Samaritan Nuns from around the corner with their big buckets of soup.
After some years, realising I was suffering from mal-nutrition, those same nuns took me into their convent. There were 50 boys at Richmond Convent, the school for poor boys, and 50 girls at Windsor Convent, the school for poor girls.
Archbishop Polding founded the Good Samaritan Nuns.
In 1945 on the Feast Day of St Michael at the Parish of St Michael, Dad rented this house. It was an old work- man’s cottage, with all brown walls. I slept on the floor and Mum and Dad had a mattress. Everyone was poor in those days. Most of our surroundings were paddocks, with cows and everything – it was a different time, and different era. Dad grew potatoes and vegetables every- where. People down the street had a cow, so we’d go down the street and get a billy of milk and we’d take our vege- tables to pay for it.
When I was about 8, mum and dad took me into the city one day, and we went into St Mary’s Cathedral, and I was absolutely mind boggled. The altar was lit up, and
there was a fellow playing the organ. Ah, I used to think I was in heaven, and that was the start of a love affair with the Cathedral. Anytime I went to the city, I would always need to go in and light a candle, and I liked going behind the main altar, to just sit there and think, and just let God look at me, and I look at Him.
When any sadness came in the house, like when Nana died, Dad would say, “go into town and give ‘em few bob and say prayers”. Dad was not a Catholic. Mum was.
Dad, from his French background, opened a butcher shop in Redfern and started to sell horse meat. Horse meat was not generally accepted by the public. Dad sold it for dog’s meat, and first weeks taking was thruppence. Our second week’s taking, was 600 pounds. Mum and dad worked their butts off and I was down there too, wrapping the meat in newspaper. We all worked very hard, and were able to pay this house off which was 3,000 pounds.
A few years later, Mum and Dad’s health gave out, so we moved to a little country town called Manildra. I went to a little bush school there, Black Joey Nuns. Three nuns – one taught music, that’s when I started learning the piano. Music is certainly one of the things that has sustained me in my faith.
Then I had an aunt who passed away. She lived around the corner on one of my properties. On the Tuesday she was to be buried, our parish priest came here and com- plained that he already had a funeral for the same day and I said, “Father, I don’t know your itinerary, can we bury her there or not?”, and he just didn’t answer me. Now I started to get upset and worked up, before he finally said yes to the funeral. When I asked to play the organ during the Mass, he again reluctantly agreed. This
was becoming both saddening and frustrating. During the funeral mass, Father had made a less than flattering remark about my aunt. I was completely taken aback – I knew she would prepare a lovely roast for Father every Monday. It was not long after this episode when I decided to stop attending mass and going to Church.
About a month and a half later, we had a lovely priest called Father Bush who came over and said, “I believe you had a bit of a fight with our Father John,” he said.
“Let’s resolve that, you come on back to Mass”.
“Father, if I can’t do it for God, I won’t do it for you! I’m too angry!”
I didn’t go to Mass for two years, and then one day the door bell goes, and who should be there, Fr John.
“I think I may have upset you” said Fr John.
“Big time John, you’ll never know”.
“For that I beg your forgiveness”, I am so terribly sorry”. “Well, I hope you accept my apology for being such a big
headed person. I was just so angry”, I told him.
“Well let’s try and see if we can give each other a hug and kiss of peace”. Well, after that, I went back to mass again. Fr John is retired now, he’s 80, and he comes and brings me communion every Sunday morning. I’m very grateful and I’m very blessed.