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A Message from Fr Mark

On Page 7 of the Sunday Telegraph, 26th April, there was an article headlined “Country Cop who took out Gunman”. It referred to an incident dating back to 15th September 2018, when a gunman went rampaging down the main street of Queanbeyan with his wild exploits finishing outside St Raphael’s Church in Queanbeyan. Johnny, for a way of saying it, ‘lost the plot.’ At age 19, he was diagnosed with bipolar. Nearing his 60th birthday some memories of those he loved, some deceased, took over his rational thinking. He had a psychotic episode which saw him march down the street firing a shotgun into the air. By the time police came onto the scene, so desperate was Johnny’s cry for help, that he called for the police to shoot him. In desperation to get him to surrender, a senior constable shot Johnny in the hip, allowing the police to take the ascendency.

At around 7am that same morning I received a phone call to come to Queanbeyan Police Station. Part of the protocol of any traumatic incident includes an invitation for a Police Chaplain to be present with other options of counselling for any police involved.

Making conversation with those involved directly plus the squad piecing together the detailed report of happenings, I asked whether this person had a record and was known to them. “Nothing, we don’t even know him,” they said. Then seeing an enlarged picture on the wall from his license I inquired whether that was him. “Yes,” said the Senior Sargent. “I know him,” I said, “That’s Johnny Warner!”

Johnny comes from a very respected family. He is a very gentle man, well known in the Catholic Community as regular face each week. Building a case in his defence, the charges against him were downgraded. So often many people with a mental situation find themselves in long term prison sentences with little consideration of their mental condition. This doesn’t dismiss the trauma Johnny’s actions have left upon those involved in this incident, Johnny’s long-standing good name has left him with a minimum sentence. It is wonderful to see his Church speak up and support him in redeeming his good reputation.

Now, more than ever, it is important to reach out when you are experiencing dark times or difficulties with your own mental health, or that of a loved one. Crisis support is available through Lifeline (131114). Catholic Care provides outreach, counselling and residential support and is available to everyone (61626100).

Fr Jiss and I are always available to those needing support and comfort in times of need or if you just need a chat. Please contact the parish office on 6242 9622 or email theivani@holyspiritgungahlin.org.au to make an appointment.…… Fr Mark.

A Message from Fr Mark