No early retirement for Queensland’s Oldest Chaplain

For the majority of people, their sixties is the time they look to retire. For Gordon Dobbin, it was when he embarked on a new path as a hospital Chaplain.

Twenty five years later, the fixture of the PA Hospital has recently retired at aged ninety. He was likely to be the oldest chaplain in Queensland.

He doesn’t have any grand retirement plans other than having the first coffee of the day with his wife Heather after years of getting up many hours before her.

It has been a long and sometimes difficult journey for Mr Dobbin which started in 1986 when he underwent multiple surgical procedures. His family was repeatedly told his survival from these surgeries was unlikely.

Beating all the odds, Mr Dobbin was discharged from the PA hospital in April 1987.

“After the miracle of surviving, I wanted to assist others and I got the chance when the PA called me shortly after I was discharged, asking if I could assist someone who had the same diagnosis,” Mr Dobbin said.

“From there I started visiting ICU, M6 and surgical patients regularly.”

After seeing all the good Mr Dobbin was doing at the PA, Queensland Baptist Care (now known as Carinity) asked him to officially become a hospital chaplain in 1990.

“If you had asked me before the surgeries if I had wanted to minister at a hospital I would have said no way. I wanted to work with youth as I had always been an active person.”

“But I have been blessed that the lord called me to ministry.”

The number of people Mr Dobbin has assisted over the last twenty five years would be upwards of 80,000. That is the equivalent to ministering to every person in Rockhampton.

As a chaplain, Mr Dobbin worked seven days a week and public holidays, often ducking off to see a few people on Sunday mornings before attending church.

“There are so many experiences that are just beyond description. I tend to express myself through poetry,” Mr Dobbin said.

“When people are at the end of their life’s journey, they want to share their most intimate details. To experience that kind of sharing with someone outside of a relationship or family setting is one of the most amazing things I have witnessed.”

Carinity Chaplaincy Coordinator Rev Don McPherson said Mr Dobbin would be very missed by the staff and patients at the PA Hospital.

“On behalf of the staff at Carinity, the PA, and the numerous patients and families who he has assisted over the past twenty five years – thank you for dedicating your life to helping those in need,” Rev McPherson said.

“Chaplain’s play an important role in the holistic wellbeing of hospital patients, staff, and their families. Many of Carinity’s chaplains, like Gordon Dobbin, are volunteers.”

For more information about Chaplaincy please go to

Photo: Gordon Dobbin and his wife, Heather Dobbin.

Media Contact:

Emma Sugget, Communications Officer

Ph: (07) 3550 3769 / 0409 865 930


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