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Q&A with new Priest-in-Charge of St Andrew’s, South Brisbane, seasoned traveller and former newspaper man, Karl Przywala

Spotlight Q&A

Meet Karl Przywala and find out what projects he is working on, about his personal faith journey, what he would write on a billboard and what makes him nostalgic

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Where do you currently live and where do you worship?

I am now living in the rectory at Highgate Hill. I moved there when I returned from my European trip in August. At the time of writing, I am awaiting my container from Vancouver, which needs customs clearance at the docks here, as well as a suitcase, last seen at Munich Airport.

I worship at St Andrew’s, South Brisbane, where I was commissioned Priest-in-Charge in May.

How long have you been involved in the Anglican Church and in what roles?

I became a lay reader at the age of 28 in England, enabling me to preach and take services. When I moved to Australia in 1996, I was involved in a church in Sydney (St Philip’s, Church Hill) and my rector encouraged me to put myself forward for ordination. I was ordained in 2004, and since then I have served in the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada and now in Australia.

Canadian General Synod,

The Rev’d Karl Przywala with other members of the Canadian General Synod, which was held in Vancouver in July 2019

What is your current role, and what does your role involve?

My current role is Priest-in-Charge of St Andrew’s, South Brisbane. During the week, I do preparation work for Sunday services. There are various groups that I take part in. I also meet people for pastoral care and to organise baptisms, weddings and funerals. There is also the big picture strategic vision stuff – thinking about where we are going in the short-, medium- and long-terms in consultation with folk, including the wardens and Parish Council.

The Rev'd Karl Przywala's commissioning service

The Rev’d Karl Przywala’s commissioning service at St Andrew’s, South Brisbane on 14 May 2022

What projects and activities are you currently working on?

I am launching my first two Adult Christian Education endeavours at St Andrew’s, which are a three-Saturday course called “Being the Bad Guys” (-based on a book of the same name), and a 10-session course on Christian worship.

I am also going to start holding film and faith evenings at St Andrew’s, probably quarterly.

What has been one of the highlights of your time in your role so far?

It has been great to be part of a men’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings that meets in a room under the church. I go along as a member of the group and am fed by participating. The members know a lot about the Bible and following Jesus and it’s a gift as a minister to see parishioners taking responsibility for the group.

What have been the key challenges of your roles so far and how have you worked through these?

My predecessor Alan was at St Andrew’s for 28 years of faithful ministry. After he retired, there was a period of locum ministers. In this situation, a new minister needs to appreciate what has been before, while also working out what needs to happen next, all in consultation. This is still a work in progress.

What are the primary strengths of the Church and what is the best way to make the most of these for the benefit of our communities?

Because of my background, I appreciate the many opportunities of being part of an international church. I have now landed in South Brisbane, which is a great central location. The parish is gifted in so many ways and so we have a solid basis for doing ministry.

What are your plans and goals for the next 12 months?

We want to grow and the way we grow is by being the very best that we can. The number one recipe for growth in my book is being faithful – staying close to God, as revealed in Jesus.

Southern Region Clergy Conference

Bishop John Roundhill, The Ven. Geoff Hoyte, The Rev’d Karl Przywala, The Rev’d Peter Moore and Bishop Daniel Abot at the Southern Region Clergy Conference on 31 August 2022 at Noosa

Can you tell us a little about your personal faith journey?

My mum was an Evangelical Anglican and my dad was a Polish Roman Catholic. I was baptised and confirmed Roman Catholic. However, when I was 18 and moving out of home for the first time to go to university, I decided to become an Anglican. This shift happened as part of a stocktake I did, deciding to take God seriously for the first time. My involvement with the Christian Union at Durham University in the early 1980s was also very formative.

How does your faith inspire you and shape your outlook, life choices and character?

My faith has led me from place to place. I have moved because of ministry calls. The Church and my belief in Jesus have been constants, as I have moved from continent to continent.

Bible study

The Rev’d Karl Przywala with worshippers at a Holy Trinity, Vancouver Thursday morning Bible study

What is your favourite Bible scripture and why?

When I was at theological college we were asked for a Bible verse that summed up the Gospel for us. I chose John 8.32: “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Alongside that, I’d also like to place Mark 8.36: “For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” This puts everything into perspective for me – as it is said, “You can’t take it with you.”

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

I toured Germany in 2017 as part the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation. I find Martin Luther inspiring. He was willing to stand up and be counted, and his action has impacted on the world.

2022’s Diocesan theme is “Being Together: Embracing Joy”. What are some practical ways that we can celebrate the way differences help to make us whole and the importance of diversity in our unity?

Whatever our differences are, they are surmountable by our belief in God, as revealed in Jesus. This binds us together and gives us joy. This starts with us as individuals – in individual relationship with God. We need to build on our personal relationships with God first – this is the source of our unity when we gather.

What is the kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

It’s powerful when random strangers are kind. When I arrived at the international airport in Melbourne in 1994, there was no “welcome” from any of the immigration staff as a new permanent resident. Before boarding my connecting flight to Perth, I went to the airport chapel. In the chapel was a group of Melbourne residents who ministered to travellers and other people there. They gave me the welcome I had been hoping for.

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

I used to be a triathlete, so it used to be running, cycling and swimming. I have now reached a stage in life where it’s more reading and listening to orchestral music.

The Rev'd Karl Przywala in the Canadian great outdoors

The Rev’d Karl Przywala in the Canadian great outdoors at Fairmont Hot Springs BC during a respite from lockdown in October 2020

If you found yourself on a deserted island, what three things would you choose to have with you?

Assuming that the Bible is already on the island, then I will settle for a really good commentary and a holy communion set.

If you could have a billboard with any text on it, what would it say and why?

“We are all sinners here – come and join us” because there is room for all.

Where do you do your best thinking?

When travelling – it broadens the mind.

What is your best childhood memory?

Seeing the sea for the first time. I was probably about five.

What is your earliest memory?

I remember being in the pram in the back garden in Birmingham.

If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

Remind myself that there is always tomorrow. I also think of good times from the past.

What makes you nostalgic and why?

I worked in the commercial side of newspapers – I hanker for the days when the newspaper was king.

Titanic exhibition

The Rev’d Karl Przywala with a group of Holy Trinity, Vancouver parishioners at the Titanic exhibition in November 2018

What day would you like to re-live and why?

My 21st birthday. I was at university and I remember it being a good day from beginning to end.

What item should you throw out, but can’t bear to part with?

I keep too many books that I will probably never read again. To my credit, I shared a lot of things before leaving Vancouver, including 1,200 LP records.

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