Seminarians and Brothers Gather with our Bishops to Inspire Their 2024 Year

15 Mar 2024

By The Record

Seminarians from St Charles, Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary, as well as brothers from the Norbertine Order, recently gathered for a high tea which featured a special address by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and discussions with the Archbishop and Bishop Don Sproxton. Photo: Supplied.

On Saturday 24 February 2024, seminarians from St Charles, Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary, as well as brothers from the Norbertine order, gathered for a high tea, which featured a special address by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and discussions with the Archbishop and Bishop Don Sproxton.

Organised by the Vocations Office and Committee, the event forms part of the Archdiocese’s commitment to supporting the wellbeing of seminarians through initiatives that foster connections with the Catholic and wider community and support their personal and social development.

Held at the Swans Restaurant in the Swan Valley, the event was MC’d by Vocations Committee member, Catherine Nguyen, and included guests from the St Charles Advisory Panel, St Charles Seminary Rector Fr Francis Nguyen and Redemptoris Mater Seminary Rector, Fr Michael Moore SM.

RMS Seminarian Marco Ferraioli and St Charles Seminarian Matthew Purt. Photo: Supplied.

A warm welcome and our Vocations Prayer

Vocations Committee member Fr Bonaventura led the opening prayer, where together all those gathered recited the Vocations Prayer.

Vocations Office Co-ordinator continued with an update of his work on behalf of our Vocations Director, Fr Israel Quirit.

RMS Seminarian Flavio Pichardo and Vocations Office Committee Member Fr Bonaventura. Photo: Supplied.

Archbishop Costelloe’s address: dispelling a “perfect” way to heaven, evangelical virtues and fostering communion

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB delivered the event’s keynote address, emphasising the Archdiocese’s commitment and step forward to vocations ministry.

He underscored the priority of supporting seminarians in their formative journey and fostering awareness among those considering answering God’s call to ministry.

Archbishop Costelloe spoke about his early discerning years as a young man who in thinking about his vocation, went to the library and in the RE section and came across a book about vocations.

He could not remember what the book contained but he did remember the illustration on the cover – a big, tall mountain and at the top was a symbol of the Holy Trinity – representing God and heaven indicating that everyone was in a journey to get to heaven. At the bottom of the mountain were four pathways.

“Two of those pathways were very wide and direct, from the base of the mountain straight to God…and the other two were very windy and difficult.”

“There was a signpost at the beginning of each pathway. On the two direct pathways the sign says priesthood and religious life. The other two signs say married life and single life in the world.”

“I mentioned this because that was the way so many people in the Church previously understood what vocations is always about and to get to heaven quickly you need to go into a seminary and enter ordained ministry.”

“Behind that was an idea that the call to priesthood or religious life is a more perfect way to Christian life rather than being married and or having a single life but there is no more perfect way to get to God. The most perfect way is the way God has chosen for us.”

Archbishop Costelloe spoke about his early discerning years as a young man. Photo: Supplied.

Archbishop Costelloe continued by saying that the challenge is to find out what God is asking of us and that is what being in a seminary and religious formation community is all about. That it is about entering a process you take seriously and be very open to ongoing discernment as to what God is asking of you.

Archbishop Costelloe also stressed that it is important for us to understand that the entry into seminary or religious house of formation is just the first step and there are a lot more steps, and each step is a further journey into a further understanding of what God is asking of us.

“The journey that is bigger than just our seminary or religious congregation. It is a vocation for the Church and to the Church and the mission of the Church and not an individual journey. It is about a person who inserts himself into a formation journey, trusting those who are entrusted to help their formation and being open to the Holy Spirit.”

Archbishop Costelloe also shared that all religious orders take the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience – as evangelical counsels or imperatives to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

This means living in a simple way, in obedience to God and to the way God makes his will known to the life ministry of the Church. Something we are all called to do – not just those on a ministry pathway.

Chastity, Archbishop Costelloe explained is also about every Christian treating others with utmost respect, recognising dignity and never using others to satisfy our own needs and desires. It is always about the other person not our own.

These virtues, said Archbishop Costelloe, need to be part of our formation journey as in the end these three vows ultimately help us to be people of communion instead of people of isolation.

St Charles Seminarians Matthew Lai and Jhee Baguinat Photo: Supplied.

The Archbishop left us with this thought and suggestion: “In the end, a person will be ‘successful in the gospel sense’ if he is a person who is a creator of communion and not an underminer of communion.”

“As part of the examination of conscience every day is to ask ourselves, ‘in what ways have I with God’s grace been a creator and fosterer of communion – among my brothers, people who I am in contact at Notre Dame and in my parish that I am a part of?’”

“Equally, ask ourselves, have I been unconsciously a sower of disunity? A compromiser of communion?”

The Archbishop finished his presentation with an acknowledgement to seminarians and brothers, saying “More than anything else I want to acknowledge and thank you for setting out on this path and continuing on this journey.”

“This journey has challenges and will continue to be challenging at stage of our life, but you are continuing with courage and hope and I acknowledge and congratulate you.”

“Bishop Don and I – we stand ready to help your formators and everyone on their journey with openness of heart to God’s will.”

“To conclude with the words that you will hear should you are ordained, ‘May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.’”

RMS Seminarian Jake Uncango and Dominican Sister Chau Ho OP. Photo: Supplied.

Thank you to everyone who made the event possible

The high tea event continued with the Archbishop and Bishop Don moving around the room to talk to all seminarians whilst enjoying tea and local delicacies.

A big thank you to the Vocations Committee, St Charles Seminary, Redemptoris Mater and Nobertine order for their support of this event.