He’s still using the mark to communicate his beliefs, just with maybe a little less spit and vinegar. Last Sunday, one side of the board said “Keep Gosford Nuclear Free,” a position that is unlikely to cause much controversy here. The other side showed, however, that he is still not averse to throwing a partisan attack: “Put right on the terrorist list”.

“You’re getting caught in the vortex,” he said of his time in the spotlight. “People appreciate what you say and you become one of those voices.”

“The middle ground is tough,” he added, leaning back in his chair, revealing red socks under his black and white robe. “We only hear the extremes.”

Father Bower, 58, has something of the wombat about him with his short, spiky hair and tightly trimmed beard – another bristly, if often lovable, Australian of the wild. He’s not afraid to swear, joke about old hangovers, or preach a sermon barefoot. He is a priest at home in the filth of existence.

He grew up in an agricultural area north of Sydney that was adopted and raised by ranchers. His adoptive father died when Father Bower was 13 years old, and his teenage years were mainly spent working in the country and as a butcher. It’s a story he never completely left behind. “The Ethical Omnivore” is on his bookshelf next to religious texts.

The advancement to be adopted, a fact he said he always knew but didn’t begin to fully process until he was in his 20s, motivated him to seek God and the priesthood.

“It was part of my search for identity,” he said. “It came with a title and a uniform.”

Many of his parishioners found Father Bower and the Church, where he has served as rector for more than two decades, by seeing the messages on the sign outside – not by walking past them on the street, but by seeing them on Facebook.

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