Seminarian Menard Gaspi on what will make him a better priest 

By Antony Lawes, 4 April 2024
Seminarian Menard Gaspi with members of the faithful following Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


In 2023, Holy Spirit seminarian Menard Gaspi set foot in Central Australia, not fully anticipating the profound impact it would have on his journey towards the priesthood. 

Before his trip, Menard struggled to understand the meaning in Aboriginal art, finding it abstract. 

But during the several weeks he spent at Santa Teresa – a small Aboriginal community about 90 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs – he had a complete change of heart. So much so that he decided to bring back two artworks to hang in the Holy Spirit Seminary, in Harris Park, as a memento of his time there, and a reminder of why seminarians need to ‘go out into the deep’ to broaden their experiences. 

Seminarian Menard Gaspi (front row, second left) during his immersion experience immersion with the Divine Word Missionaries in Central Australia in 2023. Image: Supplied

The reason for this change of heart, he says, was being able to spend time with several parishioners who were also artists, listening to them talk about their art and watching how it was created.  

Mia and Annette told me what their paintings are about, and shared techniques and tactics they have for doing their painting,” he says.  

“And it was an amazing experience because it allowed me to enter into the space behind the paintings as such over the weeks that I was there, growing an appreciation of their art.” 

By taking this time to get to know both artists, Menard says, he was not only better able to appreciate their art, but also to understand them and how they approach their faith and spirituality.

This trip has broadened my own horizon, and showed me how my own preconceptions and biases can affect the way that I do ministry,” Menard says. 

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

Going to Central Australia enabled him to challenge these “biases” by being open to new experiences and getting involved with the people there – getting to know their backgrounds and their stories. 

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.

“I feel like the biggest lesson for me was that you never know until you ask.” 

Another experience at Santa Teresa crystallised for Menard the importance of priests connecting with their community.

It was on his first night there after arriving from Alice Springs. Seeing that the town had a basketball court he went over and started to play, and soon was surrounded by young people wanting to join in. 

“It was such a touching experience for me because they just came in, and they wanted to play, and they taught me the games they played there. This is one of the best highlights of my trip there.

“Young people I believe are one of my passions for ministry. And just going out there and reaching out to them through something that I love, basketball, is such a great bridge to connect with them.”

Menard’s trip to World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, was another opportunity to connect with young people from all over the world.

Seminarian Menard Gaspi (back row second left) with international pilgrims at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima whilst on pilgrimage to the 2023 World Youth Day in Portugal. Image: Supplied

He says priests need to be able to recognise the many different cultures and backgrounds in their own community, but that bringing everyone together under the umbrella of our faith and humanity goes beyond culture. 

These trips outside the Diocese have been important for Menard, who says they have taught him to be open to adventure and new experiences, a lesson he wants to pass on to others. 

“Be open to being surprised and having that mindset of humility to be able to learn new things, not just about others but about yourself.”

Seminarian Menard Gaspi speaks with a member of the faithful following Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Blacktown. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

While helping him grow as a priest, Menard is aware that these immersive ministry trips are only possible because of the generosity of the many people in the Diocese of Parramatta who support the Holy Spirit Seminary. 

It’s always a very humbling experience, and I make sure that I give my best for this and get the most out of it,” he says. 

“Because people love the Church and they’re willing to give. They’re investing in us, and it’s our duty and obligation to also give back to them in the way that we serve.”

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


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