By Ezekiel Hangan
Our academic semester had just finished on the previous Thursday (01/11/12). For a long time I felt like the first year seminarians needed an outlet to retreat from the hustle and bustle of Carlton. So for a long time planning, my family and I decided to invite the first years to my parent’s acreage in the hilly and green eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I wanted them to see what a home is like for someone like Fr Edward or myself growing up with 100s or 10s of acreage. What is it like to enjoy having an abundance of animals and be responsible for caring for 15 acres?
The property consists of grazing paddocks, two dams, a presently dry creek, steep hills, the remnant of the orchid it used to be in a mandarin and apple tree. The grazing in question is from my family’s donkeys, alpacas and goats. My family's preference for living lawn mowers over tractors.
We arrived to say hello to the host, Clare, my darling mother. We then proceeded to feed the eager donkeys and alpacas on the other side of the fence. A meal of bread rolls, slices and carrots, their favourite. We then ventured down hill to the ‘fattening paddock’ where two alpacas reside who are in dire need of kilo-joules. After the animals were fed a single circuit around the property was done on foot.
Left, Don Pena, and right, Peter Cay.
After this walk, up and down numerous times, we were treated with a typical Australian morning tea. Scones, lamingtons, honey crackle, snow balls, tea and coffee. Swapping stories and sharing good laughs. To finalise the visit, a round of billiards where the Adonis, Dominic and Tue team came out on top.
One surprising comment from two of my year level mates. Where they come from, being invited into someone’s home to meet their parents. This is an extension of my family relations onto them. They respect and regard she who hosted them as her son would. What a remark and what a joyful day it was for the first year team.
Here is an example of human formation. To retreat temporarily from our studies to enjoy wonder of creation from animals and land. To bond as a year level and experience the best of what our family rituals have to offer. To visit those who pray for and sponsor seminarians out of the love for the Church. Just like Mary felt called to visit St Elizabeth, so to seminarians are called to visit: to train us to love our neighbour.