Notre Dame welcomes new Chaplain

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Summer 2-2-2009

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Father Gerard Conlan OMI has been appointed as the new Chaplain for The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus.

Father Conlan is a member of the religious congregation the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI). The University has a strong connection with the Oblates who arrived in Perth in 1894. An Oblate has been the Chaplain to Notre Dame, Fremantle, from its foundation.

He takes over from Father Greg Watson OMI who has been a valued member of the Notre Dame Community over the past 4½ years.

Father Conlan, who was relatively late in starting his vocation aged 35, first came into contact with the Oblates through Mazenod College, Lesmurdie, in Western Australia (WA) as a boarding student.

After finishing Year 12, he completed a Bachelor of Engineering (Mining) degree at the West Australian School of Mines, Kalgoorlie, and spent the next 15 years working in the mining industry in WA, New South Wales, Victoria, Northern Territory and as a professional consultant overseas.

“I first thought about priesthood when I was 25 years of age after a Sunday homily on vocations in Kalgoorlie (1986). After a few weeks I decided I wasn't good enough to be a priest and kept working. Then in 1991, I took 6 months off work and spent three months working in the Oblate mission in Cilacap, Indonesia. This was a time of introspection and seeking direction in life, and coming to terms with the death of my best friend two years earlier.

During my time in Indonesia, I experienced a sense of wonder at the great disparity of material wealth between our two countries, while at the same time the sense of joy, faith and hope shown by the Indonesian people was more than in Australia.”

Father Conlan was ordained in 2003 and has had experience working with the Oblates in Australia and in parishes overseas. His most recent appointments being the dual role of Chaplain at Iona College in Brisbane and with Rosies (Oblate) Youth Mission, Inc (a street outreach ministry). Iona College has 1,300 boys and Rosies has more than 10 outreaches including Youth Detention Centre, Prisons and Court Support, stretching from the Gold Coast up to the Sunshine Coast and Cairns.

In August, 2008, he moved to Mazenod College, Melbourne, as relief for the resident Oblate priest who was on sabbatical. At Mazenod his role was to offer pastoral support for 1200 students and their families, to support the religious education teachers, sport and sacraments.

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark McKenna welcomed Father Conlan’s appointment.

“I am delighted that we will continue our relationship with the Oblate Fathers. They have been valued supporters of the University since its beginning. We look forward to working with Father Gerry, who I know will support us in our commitment to carrying out the Objects of our special University.

“It is with gratitude that we thank Father Greg for his great contribution to the full life of our University Community.”

Media contact:

Michelle Ebbs 08 9433 0610, 0408 959 138