This week Rev Bruce Slater traded in his city life for a job that will take him across some of the country’s most iconic outback terrain. Bruce is the new Frontier Services Katherine Patrol Minister.
The Katherine Patrol area covers a large swathe of the Top End of the Northern Territory. Bruce will spend much of his time travelling the region to visit families and communities in remote places. It is a far cry from his previous job as chaplain and manager of pastoral care at a busy Sydney hospital.
“The word adventure is one that I find helpful to use,” Bruce said as he reflected on his new role, packing a broad-brimmed hat and leaving coats and jumpers behind.
One thing will not change. Bruce’s new job will still largely be about supporting people and caring for them in whatever way is needed.
“When I was working as a hospital chaplain I really enjoyed the reality of it. When you talk with somebody in hospital, you don’t just talk about the time of day, people get to the point about what is happening for them. They are very keen to receive a listening ear.”
“I see Patrol Ministry as an extension of this. I look forward to getting to know people and supporting them in whatever way is appreciated.”
The Frontier Services Patrol Ministers are a vital source of trusted support for isolated families, lending a hand or simply being there to listen to people when they need it.
“My role is about working with people rather than working for them – supporting what their goals are and experiencing their spiritual journey. I believe that each person has a spiritual dimension to them. You see it in the people they love, or the people who love them, in their questions of meaning, in their gifts, their creativity and in what gives them hope.”
“I am looking forward to getting to know the community and finding ways that are practical or relevant to support people in their lives.”
Burce is taking over the Katherine Patrol from Mitch Fialkowski who has been in this position since 2006. Mitch has moved to the mid-west of Western Australia as the new Murchison Patrol Minister.
Bruce said he and his wife Sylvia, grandparents of seven, were looking forward to the new experiences that will come their way in Katherine.