There was no ‘burning bush’ moment for seminarian Andrew Rooney, who at 22 years old is now in his fourth year at Holy Spirit Seminary.
“I was hoping for a sign and that the roof of my house would be torn off and God would call out, but it was a subtle attraction and calling, which over time caused me to thoroughly explore my vocation,” he explained.
Andrew grew up attending Mass with his family at Padre Pio Parish in Glenmore Park.
The second eldest of five children, with a twin sister and a doting mother, Andrew was taught the value of a supportive and close family, and the inspiration of a faith-filled mother.
“My earliest memory of my mother’s faith was when I was just four years old. My mum had a children’s Bible and she would read it to us while we sat on those foam seats for children,” he said.
“The example, strength, integrity and faith of my mother was foundational for my faith.”
Andrew attended St Dominic’s College in Penrith but didn’t reflect on the strength and conviction of St Dominic Savio until some time after his graduation.
“I had attended an iWitness Youth Conference in December 2012. I was looking for a sign to pursue the priesthood and I was quite disappointed that I didn’t have an epiphany there,” he said.
“I was in Parramatta the next day and went to Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral where I came across a St Dominic Savio prayer card.
“I went to Theology on Tap that evening. I prayed the rosary and for St Dominic Savio’s intercession. It was then that I came to the realisation that I was going to join the seminary.”
It was through prayer and the intercession of St Dominic Savio, followed by discussions with Fr Warren Edwards, the diocesan Director of Priestly Vocations, that Andrew found the courage to discern the call to the priesthood as a seminarian.
“Reading about St Dominic Savio, you can see the courage he had throughout his whole life. He would stand up to his peers and encourage them in the faith,” he said.
“St Dominic Savio is also the patron saint of choirboys. I had a lot of involvement in Church music so I had a lot of admiration for that patronage.”
Andrew began a Bachelor of Music in classical vocals before he decided to change paths and enter the seminary.
“I started my music degree because I liked music. But it wasn’t until I started my Philosophy degree in my seminary year, studying the aesthetics and rich musical tradition of the Church, that I began to love music.
“Music is integral to the liturgy. There is a great intelligence in the music of the Church. It can speak to different people at different levels in a deep way. It can speak great theological truths.
“Music goes beyond what it is to be a Catholic and delves further into what it is to be a person.
“When we sing, we rise above normal conversation. When we use song in our prayer, it helps us to express the great dignity of the act of prayer itself. When we do that communally, it communicates to everybody our devotion to God.”
Andrew enjoys the challenging communal life of the seminary.
“There are currently 13 seminarians. They’re my brothers. They’re my family and I’m motivated by them every day,” he said.
“The fraternity that you foster within the seminary is important to your priesthood because you want them to keep you level-headed and hold you accountable.
“Even if one of us ends up in Blackheath and another in Parramatta, our pursuit of the priesthood together deepens our relationship, cultivating an unyielding brotherhood.”