Preparing seminarians to “go out into the deep” and nurture faith 

By Antony Lawes, 21 March 2024
Seminarians of the Diocese of Parramatta's Holy Spirit Seminary in Harris Park. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


For Menard Gaspi and Macky Amores, who are both studying at the Holy Spirit Seminary in Harris Park, learning to become a Catholic priest involves so much more than being well-versed in the teachings of the Bible. 

As well as studying theology, each is also learning to follow Jesus’ exhortation to “go out into the deep” (Luke 5:4) and experience a world outside the Diocese – an important part of their formation, in which they are immersed in other countries, and cultures. 

This is helping prepare our seminarians for priestly life where ministering to a congregation means being aware of each parishioner’s individual faith journey and knowing how best to meet their needs so they can continue to grow in their relationship with God. 

For Menard, this was brought into focus during a two-month immersion in Central Australia in 2023. Organised by the Holy Spirit Seminary and The Divine Word Missionaries in Alice Springs, the trip exposed Menard to Australia’s outback geography, culture, hospital ministry, and pastoral care for the many Indigenous communities in the region. 

Menard said the experience was “so much more than I’d expected or hoped for”. 

Seminarian Menard Gaspi during his immersion experience immersion with the Divine Word Missionaries in Central Australia in 2023. Image: Supplied

“I believe the best preparation for anything in life is to go in with an open mind and an open heart,” he said. 

“Be willing to get involved, listen to the people and respect their space and their stories.” 

He said this trip broadened his horizons and showed him how his own preconceptions and biases could affect the way that he did ministry. 

“Going to the Northern Territory, getting involved with the people, and actually getting to know them and their background, their art, and their culture, helped me to get in touch with each person. 

“People will always have different ways of growing and different needs, and a priest should be open to that. 

“I believe that the more you know your flock, the better you can help them cultivate their faith and create a Christian life that can flourish.” 

Menard and Macky were also fortunate to attend World Youth Day in Lisbon in 2023, where they got to meet young people from all over the world. 

Seminarians Macky Amores (left) and Menard Gaspi at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris during the Diocese of Parramatta’s World Youth Day pilgrimage in July 2023. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Menard said this coming together of so many peoples of faith from so many different countries had a profound effect on him. 

“As a young person with faith, you can sometimes feel alone or in a minority. But going to World Youth Day, it was very encouraging to witness millions of people from all over the world sharing the same faith.” 

He said it reminded him of the diversity of cultures in Australia, and how a priest needed to recognise this diversity, but that “bringing everyone together under the umbrella of our faith and humanity goes beyond culture”. 

Macky’s experience of World Youth Day was similarly energising for his faith. 

He found that everyone there was eager to be involved in the experience. And during the many long walks, he found himself talking to others. 

“We had a common goal to be with Christ and experience His presence in the company of one another. 

Seminarian Macky Amores (centre) with members of his pilgrimage group during the Diocese of Parramatta’s World Youth Day pilgrimage in July 2023. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

“As someone with a shy personality, I found myself talking to strangers and having positive experiences. Now I’m more comfortable approaching people in my parish placement at St Mary of the Cross MacKillop Parish, Upper Blue Mountains. 

“This newfound confidence is a great change for me and has given me the ability to take the first step in approaching others.” 

Support our seminarians to “go out into the deep”. To make your donation please call (02) 8838 3482, or visit


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