Popular priest fires back at critics calling him 'too old'
FATHER Joe Duffy has made it a mission of knocking down challenges throughout his lengthy career.
He ruled Brisbane airwaves, conquered a bout of polio and has been the head of the Maroochydore parish for 28 years.
Buderim, Coolum and Siena parishes are also under his watch.
Now 75 years old, the parish priest at Stella Maris Catholic Church is being forced to swat away yet another challenger.
The knives are out for the seasoned priest by churchgoers not even in his parish who believe he is "too old" and out of touch with youth.
A petition has been drawn up and will be sent to Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, demanding for Fr Joe's resignation.
What should Father Joe Duffy do?
This poll ended on 30 December 2017.
Stay, he's doing a great job
Whatever he wants
Resign, he's too old and out of touch
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"We, the parishioners of Stella Maris Catholic Church, Maroochydore, Queensland reluctantly petition you to retire from the parish as soon as possible, our parish priest Fr Joseph Duffy," the petition reads.
"The petition has not been brought to embarrass Fr Joe but rather out of our love for our parish and our desire to be active within it."
But Fr Joe scoffs at the petition.
"I think it's wonderful, I love the publicity and I accept the challenge," he laughed, two days after delivering his fourth sermon in 24 hours.
"The people trying to oust me aren't even from this parish, but it doesn't really interest me.
"As the population ages, competent people are under pressure to retire but if they are performing a good service and physically fit, why shouldn't they remain in the job?"
The group behind the petition believes that under Canon Law, a priest is only able to serve in one parish for six years.
Fr Joe says that is incorrect.
If the four services Fr Joe delivered to more than 2000 people on Christmas Day mass are any judge, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
"For me, it is a challenge to perform at 75, and the last thing I want is for parishioners to say 'poor old Fr Joe, he is struggling'," he said.
"Canon Law is there to protect bishops if priests stick their claws in and refuse to move.
"But I told the archbishop when he arrived that I had been here for a long time and if he thought my time was up to give me the tap on the shoulder.
"I believe I am still doing an excellent job and still firing on all cylinders."
An Archdiocesan spokesman was quoted as saying Fr Joe had been "a remarkable parish priest" at Maroochydore for 28 years.
"In that time, Fr Joe has forged a strong community that has built one of the more dynamic parishes in Australia," he said.
"While Fr Joe has reached an age at which some priests retire, he has continued to serve the parish well and remains no less dedicated to his ministry now than in the past.
"The Archdiocese has not been notified of any petition from parishioners.
"The nature of parish life, especially in a community as large and diverse as Maroochydore, means that not all people share the same views.
"The Archdiocese is satisfied that Maroochydore remains a strong parish under Fr Joe's leadership."