YOUNG PRIEST’S CALL­ING

South Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Matt Collins Matt.Collins @south­bur­nett­times.com.au

A KIN­GAROY stu­dent priest had his eyes set on join­ing the De­fence Force be­fore a chance en­counter turned his fo­cus to God.

Strangely enough, his twin brother had the ex­act same ex­pe­ri­ence.

Grow­ing up, 21-year-old Matthew Popovic and his brother Thomas were both set on a ca­reer in the army.

“To­wards the end of Year 12 I thought maybe the De­fence Force was the go,” he said.

“I made the ap­pli­ca­tion for the army be­cause I wanted to stand for some­thing.

“But in­stinc­tively I felt this wasn’t it.”

Through his church, Mr Popovic and his brother had met a group of young peo­ple who seemed to have life sorted out.

“They had some­thing at­trac­tive, some­thing very tan­gi­ble, they were re­ally happy and joy­ful,” he said.

“I re­alised what I wanted to stand for, it was my faith.”

The young stu­dent priest and his iden­ti­cal twin brother were born into the Catholic Church.

“I al­ways had a strong be­lief,” he said.

“I al­ways knew God ex­ists, I didn’t have trou­ble with that.”

Mr Popovic did not think it was un­usual that his iden­ti­cal brother and him­self had both cho­sen the same unique ca­reer path.

“I guess it isn’t so sur­pris­ing,” he said.

“Our jour­neys are re­ally closely linked, we grew up with sim­i­lar in­ter­ests.”

Cur­rently based at the Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Mr Popovic is un­der the guid­ance of pop­u­lar priest, Fa­ther Chuk­wudi.

“I have learnt a lot from him, he is very en­er­getic,” he said.

“He has built lots of re­la­tion­ships with plenty of peo­ple.

“He doesn’t sit back locked in his of­fice, he tries to en­gage and be there for oth­ers.”

Mr Popovic said he was not de­terred by the many pos­si­ble dis­trac­tions avail­able to a young twenty-some­thing male.

“Ro­man Catholic tra­di­tion means a celi­bate life which is ba­si­cally a com­mit­ment to the peo­ple of God,” he said.

“It is a full-time com­mit­ment.

“Re­al­is­ti­cally, be­ing mar­ried to some­one and hav­ing kids would take away

my fo­cus and be a dis­trac­tion.”

Mr Popovic is con­fi­dent he has made the right long-term ca­reer choice.

“My hope is to one day be a chap­lain in the mil­i­tary,” he said.

“Once upon a time I saw the two as sep­a­rate and couldn’t match up.

“But th­ese things can go hand-in-hand.”

PHOTO: MATT COLLINS

STRONG FAITH: Matthew Popovic traded in a ca­reer with the army to study as a priest.

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