After 20 years serving the country as Bush Chaplain for Frontier Services, we say a huge thank you Rev. John Dihm as he moves into retirement.
John still remembers when he was first called to the outback, pulled from his duties as a Chaplain in a Melbourne cancer hospital. Two decades later, he admits it has changed him as a person, and that even if he might be leaving the country, the country can’t leave him.
It gets into your blood.
It’s been a wonderful ministry. A lot of fun, a lot of tears and a lot of kilometres. When I accepted the position with Frontier Services, I didn’t even know where Hawker was. I didn’t know anything about the outback. Nothing.
Within the first few months of arriving though, John was thrown into the deep end attempting to provide support through disaster.
We had floods, absolute floods a bit like Fitzroy Crossing now.
It was challenging because I didn’t know the people. The people didn’t know me, but it really cemented our time in the place and they still talk about it today.
Bonding with the community
Through the relationships he has formed with the people he has supported over two decades, John has learned to see the beauty in tragedy. He’s seen many people come and go, and each one has left a lasting imprint on him.
They become your friends, they become your family – because you’re with them so often out there. How does it affect me when they pass away? Well, you’ve lost a friend. That’s how it affects you. And you’re the one doing the service. You’re the one who’s got to hold everything together. Because that’s what Bush Chaplaincy calls for.
It’s a ministry of three things. It’s a ministry of listening, it’s a ministry of presence and it’s a ministry of being with people. That’s what it’s all about. Serving the country.
His message for the next in line to replace him is simple.
Get to know the town, your people and yourself. Because you’re going to be a different person to who you were before.
Frontier Services will continue to support Bush Chaplaincy in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.