After 14 years as a religious missionary, with a special place in his heart for journeying with families and young people, Menard Gaspi felt called to return home to Western Sydney and pursue a vocation to the diocesan priesthood.
Menard, who is 34 years old, was born and raised in Bossley Park and felt a call to the priesthood from a young age.
“Growing up, I would serve at our church, and I always thought about the priesthood,” he says.
“In my last year of high school, I met some missionaries who changed my perspective of faith and vocation. I joined a religious order and did some missionary work interstate and overseas. After some time, I felt God’s call to return home and discern for the Diocesan priesthood.”
Menard, whose hobbies include gardening, being an uncle, basketball and netball, says he is looking forward to being part of the lives of the families in our Diocese.
“The bulk of the mission work that I did was in the Philippines, and Melbourne also, working with families and young people,” he says.
“That’s where I feel called to serve and where I feel my gifts and talents are. It’s something that’s very appealing to me, to start being able to journey with families in that sense. So, that was a big part of my discernment to move out west.”
Menard says he is thankful for the support structures in place at the Holy Spirit Seminary in Harris Park.
“Here in the Diocese, they have a lot of avenues to help you with your formation,” he says.
“We do have the Rector, Fr Paul Marshall and Vice Rector, Fr John Frauenfelder, but they also have a team. We have a Dean of Studies, who helps us with our academics. We have a Pastoral Coordinator, a Priest, who helps us with the pastoral work that we do. We have a Sister, who helps us with theological reflection. And then we also have a Spiritual Director of the seminary, as well as our own Spiritual Directors who we go to. So, the seminary does well to provide us with the means for us to continue in our growth and we’re very grateful for that.”
Menard says he has also appreciated chatting with some of the Diocese’s retired Priests, some of whom live on the same campus as the seminary.
“We see them often and chat with them,” he says. “And they offer us a lot, with their own experiences within the Diocese. Having them share their experiences with us is very, very helpful in navigating through our own journey.”
For anyone discerning whether to pursue a vocational call to the priesthood, Menard says it is helpful to find somebody to confide in.
“I would encourage them to find someone they can talk to about it; someone who listens, and for them to just be able to talk about that feeling and that inclination towards the priesthood. I feel that will help them in their discernment,” he says.
Looking ahead, Menard says his vision for his vocation and the Church is that of the Church “being a beacon of light, being yeast to build up the world and society”.
“My vision is the Church being able to speak to people in a way that reignites not only their recognition of God’s love for them and their dignity as people, but also speaks to them in the purpose and their mission for life … giving life to the world and making it a better place, a more fulfilled place.”
To support Menard and his fellow seminarians to become beacons of light for our community, please give a gift to our Bishop’s Good Shepherd Appeal. To donate, please call (02) 8838 3482 or visit yourcatholicfoundation.org.au/bishops-good-shepherd-co-appeal-22