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Good Shepherd seminarians
The 2019 crop of first year seminarians at the Good Shepherd Seminary.
PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

There are great signs of hope amid turbulent times in the Church, according to the rector of Sydney’s seminary Father Danny Meagher.

Father Meagher has welcomed 12 newcomers to the Good Shepherd Seminary, bringing the total number of men in formation for the priesthood there to 54.

Coinciding with an unprecedented Vatican summit on child protection and clerical sexual abuse, and in the wake of last year’s Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the willingness of young men to consider entering Holy Orders is a sign that there is much hope in the future of the Church in Australia, Father Meagher told The Catholic Weekly.

“There are stormy seas but the Lord is with us,” he said, adding that this year’s crop of newbies is not the largest he has seen but is a healthy crop.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP led the celebration of Mass for the opening of the Seminary year for students and their families on 20 February.

“There’s still hope. People are still being called to the priesthood and have a desire to serve the Church and its people,” he said.

This week the new recruits gathered with the current students at a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP to officially open the seminary year, before going on a five-day retreat.

They will then come back to begin their discernment and formation under the first year director Father Arthur Givney with input from other seminary staff, and undertake a course on Christian Spirituality at the Catholic Institute of Sydney.

Stephen Howard, 25, from the Archdiocese of Sydney said he “immediately felt comfortable” upon moving into the seminary this month.

“But the intensity of classes and prayers started straight away and I’m sure we are in for a very satisfying spiritual year addressing all aspects for our formation from gardening to contemplation to academia and grasping at God’s will,” he added.

Seminarian's mother
Relatives of seminarians were welcomed by Archbishop Fisher OP to visit the Good Shepherd Seminary. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Shayne D’cunha, 22, from the Diocese of Broken Bay said that he thought his new home has a “wonderful balance of prayer, work and community”.

“So far seminary life has been wonderful,” he said.

“The other young men studying here have created a wonderful culture rooted in fraternity. I have also been thoroughly impressed by the formation staff who have made the transition into seminary life very easy.”

Good Shepherd’s 54 seminarians are in training for the Archdiocese of Sydney and other NSW dioceses, with eight living in parishes on pastoral placement, said Father Meagher.

This year five Good Shepherd seminarians will be ordained to the priesthood and six to the diaconate, all for NSW.

Father Meagher said that one of his ongoing priorities is working with the archdiocese’s safeguarding office to make sure students receive the appropriate training in professional standards.

“It’s important to make sure they are always up-to-date with the needs of the day,” he said.

At the opening Mass, Archbishop Fisher said that it was a “great pleasure” to welcome the first years and commended all the seminarians for their “courage and generosity” in giving themselves “heart and soul to discernment and formation for service”.

Read full article at Catholic Weekly

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: