Vincentians to strengthen healthcare

08 Feb 2008

By The Record

By Anthony Barich
The Vincentian Congregation has arrived to  strengthen the Archdiocese of Perth’s healthcare ministry
and has brought its charism of priestly training and formation with it.
Inspired by St Vincent de Paul, the Vincentian Congregation was founded by Fr Varkey Kattarath in Kerala, India in 1904 and, with 398 priests around the globe, focus their energy mainly spreading the Good News to the poor in the mission fields of India and East Africa.
A thanksgiving and votive Mass in honour of St Vincent de Paul “who continues to inspire us all” was concelebrated by Archbishop Barry Hickey with Vincentian Superior General Varchese Puthessery, Provincial Superior Jose Vettyankal and Perth’s Vicar General Fr Brian O’Loughlin on January 30 at St Aloysius parish, Shenton Park.
Shenton Park’s presbytery will be the Vincentian Congration’s first Australian base.
Also celebrating the Mass were Vincentian Frs Francis Nadiviledath (mission councilor), Augustine Mundackattu (Vicar Provincial) and Sabu Kalapurackal, who will be in charge of the Congregational House until Vincentian Frs Varghese Parackal, Thomas Mankuthel and Joseph Poonattu arrive towards the end of March to form the Archdiocese’s healthcare ministry team.
Assisting him will be diocesan priest Fr Benedict Lee, in charge of the parish while Camillian Fr Sean Bredin, who was also chaplain of Hollywood Hospital, stays until the end of the month before returning to Ireland.
Of the other members of the Archdiocese’s current healthcare team, diocesan priest Fr Andre Nahhas is moving to Northam to assist Fr Andrew Bowron, whose deacon Patrick Seatter is incapacitated after suffering a stroke.
Diocesan priest Fr Demetri Roh, sharing Charlie Gairdner Hospital chaplaincy duties with Fr Nahhas, will continue until the three new Vincentians arrive.
As their charism involves priest formation and training, Archbishop Hickey said he would love to have the Vincentians take on such a role in the Archdiocese in the future.
They have already held three successful ‘parish mission’ sessions that saw them preach at Dianella parish twice, Lockridge and Maddington, with a full house each time.
Archbishop Hickey said that Shenton Park parishioners  have already “grieved for some time” about the impending departure of the Camillians from the Archdiocese, which was “beyond our control”.
“We are grateful for the Vincentians, that they bear the name of St Vincent de Paul, who is already a much-loved saint in the State with the Society of St Vincent de Paul enjoying a prominent profile.
The Archbishop said St Vincent de Paul was not just known for his genuine love of the poor –he considered serving them as his sacred duty and as a service rendered to Jesus Himself – but for starting seminaries and assisting in priestly formation.
He did this in the belief that the good wrought by his established missions would not last unless there were priests to maintain them.
The Congregation of the Mission that he founded ran St Charles’ Seminary in Perth while Archbishop Hickey studied there.
The Archbishop said he has already caught the Spirit of being aware of their preaching and actions, which “burns in the hearts of those who hear their words” in their parish missions undertaken so far in their short stay in Perth.