AS A PRIEST who has spent the better part of half a century serving the people of Port Stephens and the lower Hunter, Father Gary Parker has become a familiar face around the area.
The affable Anglican priest, known to many for his operatic tenor-style voice, celebrates 50 years of service this week.
He was ordained at Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle on December 21, 1964, and celebrated his first Eucharist the next day.
Before entering the priesthood Father Gary was a secondary school teacher with appointments to Kogarah Boys' High School, Casino High and Gloucester High.
He studied theology at St John's Morpeth in 1963-64.
Apart from three years as a missionary in Papua New Guinea, Father Gary spent his entire ministry in parishes in South Lakes, Kurri Kurri, Hamilton, Charlestown and Raymond Terrace at St John's Anglican Church.
Although retired about 12 years, he still regularly assists the Karuah parish by celebrating mass twice a month, performs marriages, funerals and baptisms and is still active as the Karuah RSL Chaplain.
According to his wife Benita, Father Gary will celebrate the milestone quietly at St Colombia's Anglican Church in Karuah on Sunday.