By Olek Stirrat
Friday the 10th of March was marked by the first of two annual, Corpus Christi seminary Trustee Masses, followed by a luncheon. The trustees of the Corpus Christi College, provincial seminary for Victoria and Tasmania are the bishops and archbishops of the respective dioceses within Victoria and Tasmania. The Holy Mass is the highlight of the day as we have the six bishops and two archbishops come together at the college, where Archbishop Denis Hart was the main celebrant and imparted wise words about life in the seminary.
A characteristic event of the day was the bestowal of a badge with the Corpus Christi crest, and a copy of the Catechism upon the eleven new first years, by Archbishop Denis Hart. It is an occasion whereby the first year seminarians are formally introduced to the trustees of the college.
The day provides a great opportunity for the trustees and seminarians to pray with one another around the Eucharist, and to encounter one another in a spirit of solidarity around a pleasant luncheon. The day is nourishing for both, body and soul. This is a great opportunity for the trustees to catch up with their seminarians over a light-hearted meal. The essential quality of the day was an encounter with Lord and with one another exemplified by joy.
Below is Archbishop Denis Hart's homily at the Trustees Mass
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s Readings invite us to a true integrity of life, to sorrow and penitence for our sins, because we know that in the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption. Particularly in this Mass we ask the Lord to hear our fervent prayers for the growth of the life of the Seminary during 2017.
For the Trustees, I thank our staff, professors of C.T.C., and all who work with us on the journey. Seminary time is one of formation for priesthood. That means that we come with the fine priests and staff members who have been entrusted with our formation, so that we may be shaped after the mind of Christ.
We come with our individual gifts and talents, but new gifts of holiness, learning, engagement with people and care for them need to be developed according to the mind of the Church.
A Seminary is a place of growth in relationship with God and with others. We need to spend time here, to grow in a spirit of prayer, to be part of a worshipping community and to undertake our contribution to that community. As a community of study, friendship and apostolic work we grow in our knowledge of theology, scripture and pastoral skills.
While it can be said that the priesthood and those preparing for it have been the subject of scrutiny recently, I want to compliment the staff of Corpus Christi College for the way in which they are leading our students along the way to priesthood, following the great ‘pillars’ which Pope Paul II listed in his Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis. We will only grow spiritually if we give ourselves to Christ and thus become less a person for me than a person for God and for others.
Our studies challenge our minds and lead us forward on our journey, giving us deeper knowledge and broader experience. Our study is not just limited by those things which we find easy, but it is seeking to reach out to any knowledge which will benefit us as God’s priests in the years ahead.
The development of our human and social skills is most important so that we will learn to converse with people, to reach out into the community and to be attentive to the signs that they give us of their life and needs. We begin this with our brothers in the Seminary, we extend it on our pastoral placement.
Finally, we learn to be pastors. Our celibate love is the love of Jesus Christ shown for our sisters and brothers in the community because we want to accompany them in their spiritual growth and prepare ourselves to be ardent servants of the Gospel, gifted ministers of the Sacraments, ready pastors who walk with our people and are engaged fully with them.
My prayer for you as seminarians is that as your journey to the priesthood continues, not only will the priesthood seem closer, but you will realise that you are accompanied by the loving Lord who will never desert us, by Jesus and Mary, and with the support and encouragement of those who are in this place of fruitful endeavour, of charity and Gospel living, of learning and interaction, so that we will come forward to be priests of Jesus Christ with the mind and heart of our Saviour, walking with him along the way of redemption.
May Jesus live in our hearts forever.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.