– The Kid
Grandpa Perel owned “The Patriot” newspaper. He had recieved a medal for saving a man from a fire. My mother, a journalist in her father’s newspaper, was educated at St. Margaret’s Anglican school, Clayfield, and much to the horror of her family, married a Catholic railway worker who had had a mail run across the D’Aguilar range at twelve.
Because the small farm “The Cove” that my grandfather owned would go to the eldest son Jack, dad could not be a farmer as he desired , so his mother bumped his age up two years and sent him off to the railway which at first he hated, but putting his all into it he rose over the years to staff clerk and finally to the comissioner’s representative.
Reg and Rene had six children, five born at Caboolture and one in Brisbane, to which city Dad was transferred to around 1937. I went to St. Joseph’s Convent at Nundah and made my first Holy Communion at the age of seven.
I remember the day vividly. It began with my dressing in a pretty white dress my mum had made. There I was, admiring myself in the mirror when mum entered the room and said seriously “sit down and meditate.” Well, I hadn’t heard that word before but I got the message.
That was my first encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist and my brother and I used to go to daily Mass, walking or riding a bike the mile and a half from Northgate to Corpus Christi Church, Nundah.
I was worried when, about the age of eleven dounts overcame me about the Eucharist, so one morning I went around to the sacristy to talk it over with Father O’Keefe, our Parish Priest who listened, then said with a smile, “It’s okay Irene, you’re growing up in your faith.” I found out that day, that it was okay to question!
Each night we said the rosary kneeling in our lounge room. Dad knelt with his head hidden in a lounge chair. The nuns tried to encourage us to attend Benediction of a Sunday night but dad believed the family rosary was better for us.
One night I was kneeling by my bed saying night prayers. I was kneeling on one knee. Dad must have been passing and looked in for he demanded to know why I was praying thus. It was okay when I showed him my gravel-rashed knee.
Dad would not join the “Holy Name Society” for he had said he had heard too many men in pubs using God’s name in vain. He would go up to them and say “You ought to take off that badge.”
One day I had said to my mother, “Did you find it hard to become a Catholic?”
“No. It was beautiful. It was all I desied.” Was her reply.
So its no wonder I fell in love with this Jesus who was so real and vital in our lives, and that I desired to give my whole life to Him in the religious life, which I entered in 1949 with the blessing of both parents.
If I had my life over again, I would do the same thing, thanking and praising God and sharing my faith and love and joy with others.