WSU Catholic chaplaincy back in action

The Polish Dominicans are back for a new year of university chaplaincy at Western Sydney University in the Diocese of Parramatta.
Students at WSU (from left): Danica D’Souza, Michael Seecy, Michael Khairy and Martin Habib. Image: Diocese of Parramatta/Jordan Grantham.

By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook, March 2017

The Polish Dominicans are back for a new year of university chaplaincy at Western Sydney University (WSU).

Fr Andrew Fornal OP, Fr Pawel Barszczewski OP and Fr Piotr Kruk OP are the three friars of the university chaplaincy.

Michael Khairy (left) and Martin Habib enjoy sharing their faith on campus. Image: Diocese of Parramatta/Jordan Grantham.

This year the chaplaincy is hoping to expand into the Hawkesbury campus and have more inter-campus events between the current bases of Parramatta, Penrith and Richmond campuses.

Their focus is “assisting students in their spiritual life,” Fr Andrew said. The shape and direction of the chaplaincy follows the lead and needs of the students.

Plans include starting a regular Mass on campus, and a collective sports event.

Fr Andrew said students would benefit from the camaraderie of the Catholic Campus Ministry, improving their spiritual welfare, sharing their faith and supporting each other as witnesses to Christ on the campuses. “When we are together we are stronger than individuals,” he said. “The meetings often revolve around food.”

Fr Andrew was previously part of the Polish Dominican Project in New York City, which involved the chaplaincy to Colombia University. When he was Bishop of Parramatta, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP was impressed by their work and invited them to the Diocese to minister to tertiary students.

Fr Piotr also has experience in campus ministry, working with university students in Katowice and Lublin in Poland. Fr Pawel was chaplain at The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Sydney campus from 2015-16.

Danica D’Souza is a student for the Bachelor of Science in Nutrition on the Hawkesbury campus. She said she had a great time with the chaplaincy last year when completing a unit at the Penrith campus.

The Dominican priests were able to give her travel and language tips for World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland.

Danica said the fathers were “down to earth, really easy to talk to”. “They make things interesting.”

The Penrith campus chaplaincy had multiple events, including praying the Liturgy of the Hours, social lunches, watching movies and ample opportunity to just hang out.

Now Danica is excited to organise a Catholic Campus Ministry Group on the Hawkesbury Campus of WSU, where her course is based.

Interested Hawkesbury campus students should contact Danica by messaging the Catholic Campus Ministry – WSU Facebook page.

Students can contact Fr Andrew Fornal OP, tel 0405 200 937, and

The Diocese of Parramatta is developing an app to help you keep in touch with what is happening in the Catholic Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. You will be able to find the latest news, events and Mass times for parishes and migrant communities. To sign up to be the first to know when the app is released, click here.

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