Seminarian David Sebastian: My mother was my first teacher and guide

By Christina Gretton, 8 May 2022
Seminarian David Sebastian with his mother Sophia. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


As Mother’s Day approaches, we asked two of our seminarians at Holy Spirit Seminary, Victor Atuhura, and David Sebastian, and Fr Shinto Francis, Assistant Priest of St Thomas Aquinas Parish, Springwood, about their mothers and the role that their spiritual mother, Mary has played in their lives.

Seminarian David Sebastian talks about his relationship with his mother Sophia.

What are a few things about your mother you appreciate?

I must say it is funny reflecting on this question because it shows me how often I take for granted my parents, especially my mother. Even on an interactional basis, the number of times people have told me that certain mannerisms reminded them of my mother is scary, but it shouldn’t be because my mother in many respects was my first teacher, my first guide, in short, my protector.

I can vividly remember sitting on the couch watching the cricket as she patiently taught me about averages, even how to read the time. But the things I appreciate most about my mother are those things that go unsaid. Seeing mum working hard, being a leader in her field, being attentive to her work plus my father, sister, and I, which is no easy feat mind you, gave me a visual model which I have tried to embody in my own life.

Any favourite memories of time with her?

There are too many memories to choose from, but the memories I cherish the most are the times when she encourages me. I come to her with my worries and she in her gentle nature seems to methodically break them down to their underlying issue.

How has she supported your faith journey?

I agree wholeheartedly with the statement that ‘parents are the primary teachers of the faith’ because without my mother living and promoting the faith, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Again, it wasn’t the externals alone that supported my faith journey, like taking me to Mass and confession, altar-serving practices, even car-rosaries, it was her hospitality, welcoming friends and strangers alike into our home. That showed me the faith in action.

Do you usually see her for Mother’s Day?

I have been very blessed to have seen Mum every Mother’s Day to date, even whilst at the seminary. To be able to spend time with Mum and the family on these special days are memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

What do you usually do on Mother’s Day?

Because of the Masses I have to attend, I wouldn’t be home to make mum breakfast, but that doesn’t mean that Mum goes without – the beauty of having a sibling who can do that! But as a family, we would go out for dinner and the three of us, my dad, sister and I, would splurge a little on Mum, getting her a new fragrance.

How do you think we can show our mothers our appreciation?

I think it is quite easy to show appreciation to our mothers. Initially, I thought that buying things for Mum would be the way to her heart. But as I’ve learned it’s spending time with her, going out to dinner, answering, or ringing mum to see how she’s going. Even just telling her that ‘I love her’. These little things, I feel, show Mum my appreciation for everything she’s done and continues to do for me.

What role does Mary play in your own personal faith?

My grandmother passed away when Mum was young, and so in hindsight, the relationship that I have with our Blessed Mother resulted from the relationship my mum had with Mary. My mother, but my family in general, has a deep Marian devotion. But Mary has played such a big role in my own personal faith journey because she leads me to her Son. In moments of hardship and temptation, the rosary has brought me such great peace. Totus Tuus.

What are the qualities of Mary that are most resonate most with you?

Reflecting on the Annunciation scene in Luke’s Gospel, Mary’s fiat, her “yes” to God’s plan resonates with me the most, because it puts me in check. So often, our society promotes getting a name for yourself, pursuing power and status, and yet Our Lady shows me the humble way, ‘be it done unto me according to thy word’. Mary’s life shows me that none of this is up to me, that everything my life should witness to Jesus. That’s what Mary’s life resonates most with me.

David’s interview first appeared in the Easter 2022 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can read the magazine here.


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