The Very Reverend Peter Gerrard Whitely is the seventh of eight children of Thomas and Kathleen Whitely (née Foster) and was born in East Fremantle on 27 March 1948.
He was baptised at St Patrick’s Basilica, Fremantle on 18 April 1948 by Fr Thomas O’Byrne OMI. In 1951, the Whitelys moved to Graylands and began attending the Claremont Parish.
Fr Whitely commenced his education at St Thomas Catholic Primary School in 1952 and received his First Holy Communion at St Thomas the Apostle Church on 30 October 1955 from Fr Jeremiah McNamara. On 28 September 1958, he was confirmed by the late Bishop John Joseph Rafferty.
From 1957 to 1963, Fr Whitely attended St Joseph’s Marist Brothers College in Subiaco, before entering St Charles' Seminary in 1964 to complete the last two years of secondary school.
He furthered his education in 1966 when he commenced studies in philosophy, before studying theology at St Francis Xavier Seminary in Rostrevor, South Adelaide from 1969 to 1972.
Once completed, Fr Whitely returned to Perth and was ordained a deacon at St Mary’s Cathedral on 12 December 1971 by the late Archbishop Launcelot John Goody, who would later, on 2 September 1972, ordain him to the priesthood at St Thomas the Apostle Church in Claremont.
Following two brief pastoral placements in parishes at Claremont and West Perth (now Northbridge), Fr Whitely was appointed as Assistant Priest at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Scarborough, in 1973.
This placement continued for 13 months, before he was appointed Assistant Priest at St Mary’s Cathedral and Chaplain at Royal Perth Hospital from 1974 to 1978. Fr Whitely followed this with another placement as Assistant Priest in Moora from 1978 to 1979 before receiving his first appointment as Parish Priest at the Kulin/Kondinin parish in 1980.
He remained there for more than five years before being appointed to the Kellerberrin parish for 13 months. In 1986, Fr Whitely was assigned the challenging task of becoming the founding Parish Priest of the Bateman parish where he oversaw the building of the parish’s first church in 1992.
In 1997, he moved to All Saints Church in Greenwood where he remained for more than five years and followed this in 2003 with ten years as the Parish Priest of St Benedict’s in Applecross, where he once again oversaw the building of the first church building in 2008.
In 2013, he was appointed as Vicar General.
In 2016 he was appointed as Episcopal Vicar for Archdiocesan Growth and Development, Media and Communications.
Fr Whitely has also been an Army Reserve Chaplain for more than three decades and has received a “Reserved Forces Decoration” with three clasps for his loyal service, as well as a Chief of Army Commendation in 2006 for achievements as Staff Chaplain Western Region.
Since 1988, Fr Whitely has also provided pastoral care and Masses for Indonesian Catholic families migrating to Perth, helping to establish the Indonesian Catholic Community in 1993 and serving as its Chaplain for more than 12 years.
He is also a former member of the Archdiocese Ecumenical Affairs Committee and is an ex-officio member of the Archbishop’s Curia and Council of Priests.
He has been a member of the Diocesan Resources Committee from 1993, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Perth Property and Investment Committee from 2013 and was appointed as one of the Archbishop’s Consultors in 2014.