Following the departure of Father Alex at St Peter Chanel, Grade six students Brielle Bryan, Findlay McIntosh and Marlea Willie have put their journalistic skills to the test to find out all about their new Father, Father Christopher Kasturi and his journey to becoming Smithton’s newest member of the local Catholic congregation.
Father Christopher was born in Rangoon, Burma but had to flee his home and go to India. He grew up in Visakhapatnam, and only had two boxes of clothes between his whole family. Father Christopher had to live in refugee camps which he said was very hard having to be away from his family for such long periods of time.
How are you enjoying Smithton?
It is my third week here in Smithton and it is very beautiful. Smithton is a wonderful place and everyone is so kind.
What made you want to become a priest?
It is a long story, I was born in Rangoon and deported to India with only two boxes of clothes. We lived in a camp with thousands of people. Our parents brought us to church every Sunday, which is where I saw all of the priests and nuns helping to educate and look after all of the children there. That is why I decided to become a priest, to help others as they helped me. My sister decided to become a nun also to help others.
What age were you when you travelled to Australia?
I came to Australia when I was 56 and I have been a priest for about 30 years.
What has been your favourite thing to do in Tasmania so far?
Oh, easy. My favourite thing so far has been visiting the elderly and the sick in hospitals. For me, it’s a special occasion, simply because it makes me, and also others happy, especially the lonely ones because they are always the happiest to see the priests and new visitors.
What is your favourite thing that you have done during your priesthood?
I have actually recently started a school called St Catherine’s in a vulnerable remote area that supports poor and neglected children, giving them a basic education.
When did you know you wanted to be a priest?
After my schooling, my parents expected me to be a priest. A nun inspired me to become a priest, a bishop called me and asked if I wanted to be a bishop. I just wanted to be a priest, I wanted to live up to my parents expectations and to help others in poverty.
Have you travelled anywhere?
I have been to 23 countries. Tasmania is the best place because there are lots of beautiful and unique places, everything is pure. Everyone is very kind. Smithton is the best part of Tasmania.
What is your favourite sport/ do you play any sports?
I played basketball and was a bodybuilder. I loved going to the gym and lifting weights. I loved to play shuttlecock and go for long-distance runs.