Christmas helpline for lonely

Father Michael Gatt outside St Kieran's Parish Centre. Picture: Simon Santi d347019
Father Michael Gatt outside St Kieran's Parish Centre. Picture: Simon Santi d347019

Father Gatt said last Thursday he received a letter from the woman, who is married and expecting a baby, thanking him for his support over the years.

‘She got my telephone number from my website, she rang me, then we started communicating through email and that happened about 12 years ago and we are still in touch,’ Father Gatt said.

‘I received a Christmas card from her, she told me she was expecting a baby and she was happily married ” when she rang me she was considering suicide.’

The priest, who has been in the Catholic Church for over 45 years, served in the Royal Air Force in Malta as well as the RAAF in Australia and said he applied negotiation skills learnt in the air force to his helpline.

‘I really enjoy that type of service because it’s so rewarding, you encounter all kinds of people from all walks of life ” some years I’ve had more than a hundred calls.’

Father Gatt said he started the helpline in 1991 because he knew a lot of people felt lonely during the Christmas period and often needed someone to talk to.

‘I felt there were many lonely people, depressed people about Christmas time when everyone is celebrating with their family, they can feel very lonely and they might need some help and I thought to do something for them,’ Father Gatt said.

Father Gatt’s ‘Gatline’ is available 24 hours a day on 9444 1334 or 9444 8650 and by email on gattline@bigpond.com