Wow a Catholic Surfer Priest who Saved a Man from a Shark Attack, Now Receives Bravery Medal from the Governor General

A Catholic priest who helped rescue a surfer being attacked great white shark, has been awarded a bravery medal by Australia’s governor general.
“It feels like I haven’t done anything extraordinary,” Fr Liam Ryan, a priest in Midland, Perth, told The Catholic Leader.
“I thank God for giving me courage in that moment, and I also remember that I was not alone.”
An seasoned surfer, Fr Ryan, age 35, was on vacation with a group of friends. They were in Bunker Bay, south of Perth, Australia, on July 31, 2020.

Fr Ryan started screaming for help as a shark mauled fellow surfer, 28-year-old Phil Mummert, just a few metres away.
Fr Ryan did not hesitate in paddling straight towards Mummert to try and help as the shark bit into Mr Mummert’s leg and ripped a huge chunk out his surfboard. 
As the shark circled, one of Fr Ryan’s fellow surfers, Alex Oliver, reached injured Phil Mummert first, pulled him onto the front of his board and started paddling towards the shore.
Despite the shark still being close, Fr Ryan and friend, Jess Woolhouse reached the injured man on the board and helped him get to shore.

“For me its clear, God wanted us to be there, he wanted Phil to survive the shark attack and strangely designed that a wild animal would bring us to know each other for the rest of our lives,” Fr Ryan said.
Fr Ryan, Mr Oliver and Mr Woolhouse were each awarded the prestigious Bravery Medal, by Australia’s Governor General, David Hurley.
“No one sets out to be brave. No one really knows how, when presented with a dangerous situation, they will act,” the governor general said, announcing 15 Bravery Medal winners for 2022 .
Each of the three surfers have also received a Coastal Bravery Award from Surf Life Saving WA.
“When I visit our schools to talk about vocations or sacraments or whatever, I ask the kids if they have any questions. The first one is always ‘Can you tell us about the shark?’” he said.
“These medals and awards are also a surprise. God is always working to break down barriers and the stereotypes we build up in our hearts.
“If this helps people to see that priests also go on holidays, surf and help people everyday then that’s awesome.
“Will it bring people to encounter the love of Christ, who gave his life because he loves us? I can only hope so!”

Fr Ryan tells a story about the special surfboard he was riding the day of the shark attack: “It was given to me by Jess Woolhouse, my best friend, when I was in the seminary. He custom shaped it for me and although not Catholic he named it the ‘Hail Mary’. I have several boards but the one I was on that day was the Hail Mary. Coincidence? Not in my books.”

“The ocean still remains a place of peace and rest for me, a place where I encounter God and God’s creation.”
Fr Ryan was ordained in August 2019 after completing studies at Perth’s “Redemptoris Mater” Missionary Seminary for the formation of priests in the Neocatechumenal Way.
He is now a priest at St Brigid’s Church in Midland parish, Perth.
St John of God Midland Public Hospital