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Vocations Sunday 2018

You had to be there! The atmosphere of the solemn Mass, the beautiful music and the prayerful reverence of the people gathered around the Lord, marked the 55th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Young people, Consecrated Women, seminarians, and young families gathered with the parishioners of St Benedict’s Broadway in a revamped initiative to pray specifically for Vocations in the family. Bishop Tony Randazzo presided over the day, aided by Fr Thomas McFadden, Vocations Director for the Capuchin Friars, and myself. The celebration was a happy occasion.

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2018

This gathering commemorates an historic event that is a central focus of the Vocation Centre year. For the Church in Australia, 2018 marks the 200th year of Eucharistic Adoration in Australia. In 1818, the last Priest in Australia, Fr O’Flynn, left a sole Blessed Sacrament with the Dempsey family in Kent Street, Sydney, before his deportation to England. Without a priest, faithful families gathered at the Dempsey House to adore, praying in silence and song, and supporting each other with the strength they drew from the Lord, in the Eucharist.

The heritage of the Church in Australia is steeped in the events at this family home. This is something that the Vocations Centre is enthusiastic about celebrating 200 years after that time.

With this in mind, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is now especially celebrated with families each year. It is our hope that we will continue our tradition of gathering around our Eucharistic Lord to listen, discern and live as the first Catholics did in 1818. In times of adversity like ours, a witness like those in the Dempsey home is urgently needed. Their witness can inspire a new generation of men and women ready to respond to the call of the loving God. As the words of Pope Francis remind us,

“Even amid these troubled times, the mystery of the Incarnation reminds us that God continually comes to encounter us. He is God-with-us, who walks along the often dusty paths of our lives. He knows our anxious longing for love and he calls us to joy. In the diversity and the uniqueness of each and every vocation, personal and ecclesial, there is a need to listen, discern and live this word that calls to us from on high and, while enabling us to develop our talents, makes us instruments of salvation in the world and guides us to full happiness.”(Pope Francis, Message for 55th World Day of Prayer for Vocations)

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2018

The family is the first place where each of us learned to listen, to pray, to discern and live for others in mutual love and respect. The family is the most natural place where children are truly themselves in the loving care of their parents. It is here, too, that their hearts are guided towards the supernatural in our Catholic Tradition. And it is therefore the family home that is best placed to nurture a vocation.

In his turn, Bishop Randazzo preached on freedom and its essential place in the act of choosing to do God’s Will in the manner of Christ who “laid down his life out of his own accord” (John 10:18). His homily gave all of us food for thought and encouragement. Later on after a light luncheon, Bishop Randazzo reminded those gathered around him about the irreplaceable dignity of the Family as the Seedbed of Vocations. A vocation is God’s personal invitation to a relationship with Him, which sets you on the path to holiness.

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2018

Bishop Randazzo’s address was steeped in examples of God’s personal invitation to a vocation in Sacred Scripture. He illustrated the stories of Moses, Jeremiah and St Paul, among others, of how God’s personal invitation is often in response to a particular need.

“God’s call is always personal. It is not abstract. God names you. It is made to men and women in a given place, and in a given time. It is tangible, recordable and accessible.” He expanded that a call from God is but the beginning. The invitation calls for a response, but then action must follow. “God asks, He invites, and then sends you… A person is called to do something – to lead, to guide, to teach, to go on a mission.”

In the church, the children had a catechesis about Christ and the Eucharist. They moved reverently through the church, learning through the beautiful images in the stained glass windows of the historic parish.

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2018

The day concluded with Benediction led by Bishop Randazzo. I am hopeful that next year will see more families getting involved in similar initiatives in their parishes. With the positive feedback from the participants, especially the excitement of the children, I am confident that next year’s gathering will find you being part of it as well.

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2018

First year seminarians for 2017 at Good Shepherd Seminary in Homebush. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

It shouldn’t be happening. With the reputation of Catholic priests and the Church at an all-time low, both of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s seminaries are booming.

Rather than turning away from the possibility of the priesthood, young men are choosing to enter seminary formation because they believe Christ may be calling them to a life as priests. The interesting question is why?

The Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush, which produces priests for service in archdiocesan parishes, is experiencing a renaissance of interest with 51 seminarians from ten dioceses in formation—the largest number the seminary has had in over a decade.

“I believe there was a similar number about ten years ago,” Fr Danny Meagher, Rector of the seminary, told The Catholic Weekly.

This year eight new seminarians entered the Homebush Seminary. There will also be two ordinations to the priesthood and seven to the diaconate in 2018.

The seminarians range in age from 21 to 41, and while most were born and bred in Australia, many are from diverse ethnic backgrounds including Vietnamese, Filipino, Iraqi, Ugandan, Nigerian and Italian.

There are also three Sydney seminarians currently undertaking studies in Rome.

“We try to help them come to know themselves better,” Fr Meagher said. “To come to know God better, understand the Church, so they can freely choose to give themselves to God and the Church. And to grow in maturity, goodness and holiness in order to become good compassionate priests.”

Through the formation process he said the seminarians “learn to relate better to others” and to have “a clearer more mature understanding of themselves and others.” They also “develop a deeper awareness of who God is and a deeper love of God. Greater freedom and peace.”

Read the full story here →

.- On Saturday, the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision that the Church celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as “Mother of the Church” every year on the Monday after Pentecost, as a way to foster Marian piety and the maternal sense of the Church.

The decree establishing the memorial was published March 3 in a letter from Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

 As Sarah explained, Pope Francis added the memorial to the Roman Calendar after carefully considering how the promotion of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this particular title might encourage growth in “the maternal sense of the Church” and in “genuine Marian piety.”

“This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed,” Sarah wrote.

The cardinal noted that the “joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman, the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.”

The memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, has been added to the General Roman Calendar, the Roman Missal, and the Liturgy of the Hours. The Latin text has been published, and the translations will be prepared by the bishops’ conferences and approved by the congregation.

 A celebration of a memorial generally means that prayers and readings specific to the day’s memorial are used in the Mass.

The Marian title of “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Bl. Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council. It was also added to the Roman Missal after the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975.

Subsequently, some countries, dioceses and religious families were granted permission by the Holy See to add this celebration to their particular calendars. With its addition to the General Roman Calendar, it will now be celebrated by the whole Roman Catholic Church.

In 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, will be celebrated on May 21.

News – Catholic News Agency:

Catholic Institute of Sydney appoints first woman president in Sr Isabell Naumann

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has appointed Schoenstatt Sister Isabell Naumann ISSM as the President of the Catholic Institute of Sydney, a key role in the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Church in Australia.
Sister Naumann’s appointment is also significant as she becomes the first woman to hold the position of President of the Institute, established in 1954; she is its ninth president. She will take up her appointment on 26 February, the commencement of the academic year.

The appointment is a key role in the Church in Australia because the CIS is the only ecclesiastical educational faculty in the country. As such, it is officially established under the auspices of the Holy See and the only educational institution which can offer ecclesiastical (sometimes called ‘Roman’) degrees.

The President’s appointment (made by the Chancellor, Archbishop Fisher) must also be approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome. Although laity do – and have – studied at CIS, it is primarily responsible for the theological and philosophical education of seminarians, the future priests of the Archdiocese. However seminarians from religious orders or seminaries such as the Neocatechumenal Way Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Chester Hill also undertake their theological and philosophical studies at the Institute.

A total of 163 students were enrolled at the Institute in 2017. Sister Isabell, a specialist in Mariology, has taught at CIS since 2005, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in Systematic Theology, particularly in the area of ecclesiology. She was also the Dean of Studies at the archdiocesan Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush. However Sister Naumann is not only a highly-regarded academic on the Australian Catholic scene; she is also a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture in Rome, having been first appointed to the Council by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and reappointed by Pope Francis in 2014.

She takes over the President’s role from Dr Gerard Kelly, a priest of the Archdiocese, who served as CIS’s President from 2004 and who teaches Systematic Theology at the Institute. The degrees offered by the Institute include the STB (a Baccalaureate of Theology), the STL (a Licentiate in Sacred Theology, equivalent to a Master’s degree at a secular university) and the STD (a Doctorate in Sacred Theology).

Archbishop Fisher also announced the appointment of Dr Rohan Curnow as Deputy President. Dr Curnow, who has lectured at CIS since 2010, will also maintain his current role as Academic Dean.

News – Catholic Weekly:

“The crisis in the Church is a manifestation of the crisis in our culture, and the crisis is one of formation,” Dr Bottaro told The Catholic Weekly. “There is a lot of talk about the vocations crisis but I don’t think we have a vocations crisis. I think we have a formation crisis. It starts with the breakdown of the family, with moving away from family values and as part of that children are not being formed into healthy human beings.”This leads to seminary candidates, for example, “having come into the priesthood who are lacking basic human skills”.“They’re not relatable, they’re not comfortable with themselves, they don’t know who they are, they don’t have self-awareness. They’re trying to fit into a role that requires not only normal human skills but super-natural skills because it is a super-natural vocation, particularly the vocation to celibacy.”

Dr Bottaro says parents have a “grave” responsibility to foster basic life skills and virtues in their children, particularly by limiting or eradicating their access to social technology before the age of seven or eight. “Smartphones in particular are nurturing addiction in kids’ brains and removing from them the ability to relate as a human being to other human beings,” he said.

The Renaissance of Marriage Conference held at the University of Notre Dame Australia brought together 200 educators, leaders, and advocates to discuss the education of young people and support of engaged and married couples.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher celebrated the opening Mass and presenters included Sr Moira DeBono of the University of Notre Dame, Jonathan Doyle of Choicez Media, Bishop Michael Kennedy of Armidale, US speaker Christina King, Robert Falzon of MenAlive,  and conference convenors Fran and Byron Pirola of the Marriage Resource Centre.

While in Sydney Dr Bottaro also addressed Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Randazzo and vocational leaders at a roundtable discussion in Sydney, and ran a workshop on Catholic mindfulness.

News – Catholic Weekly: