On Friday 19 March 2010, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP made an extended visit to the Diocese of Parramatta’s Holy Spirit Seminary at St Marys. The new Bishop of Parramatta met with his seminarians and the Rector, Fr John Hogan. I was also invited to enjoy the seminary’s hospitality.
With the care of George, the much-treasured man in the kitchen at Holy Spirit, we shared a beautiful meal as a special welcome to Bishop Anthony.
Once the culinary treats were done, the Bishop invited each of the seminarians around the table to share his story. What followed was a wonderful testimony to the variety of ways in which God’s call is heard.
The seminarians told of their families, work and study backgrounds as well as the key influential people or experiences leading to their consideration of priesthood.
Our seminarians are a pretty good representation of the rich cultural mix which comprises the people of the Diocese of Parramatta.
Four current seminarians came to us under transfer arrangements from overseas, each having previously completed some years of seminary formation.
The remainder of the men have either been in Australia all their lives or were already living in Australia when they offered themselves to prepare for the priesthood for us.
Bishop Anthony hopes to visit his seminary frequently and told the seminarians how much he looks forward to getting to know them well.
He also affirmed them as being great advertisements for vocations to the priesthood, asking them to look for and encourage many excellent candidates to join them.
For me, reflecting as one who has been involved in vocation discernment and support, the day with Bishop Anthony at the seminary was one of hope.
Previously, Bishop Kevin was always confident that the Holy Spirit would continue to call faith-filled, enthusiastic, loving young men to the vocation of priesthood.
Establishing Holy Spirit Seminary was a sign of this confidence in God. And, clearly, neither does Bishop Anthony wish to shy from a confidence in the priestly call … nor in the call to each of the vocations we treasure as complementary foundation stones of Christ’s Church.
When I started learning about the vocations ministry, a wise friend said this to me: “Paul, remember, you don’t have to go out and create vocations. Each one’s vocation is already in him/her. It’s just that some keep it buried and never discover it. So go and encourage people to listen, and walk with people so that they may have confidence to say ‘yes’ to their adventure with God.’”
I’ve never forgotten these wise, guiding words. To anyone reading this, I’ll say again what you may have heard me say before: if you’ve had some thoughts about a vocation to ordained or religious life, do yourself a favour and give me a call.
If it’s God’s truth in you, then he can more than equip you despite any doubt you may have. And if it’s not to be your path, then making the call will, in any case, help you to your next step!
Every confidence in your call in this Easter season…Fr Paul.