By Jackson Saunders
It’s more than 10 thousand miles from his home and first year seminarian, Christhian Azuero Betancour, is beginning his journey as a missionary.
Christhian, 32, is from Colombia and feels called to study for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Last month Christhian began his studies at the regional seminary for Victoria and Tasmania, Corpus Christi College.
Christhian’s decision to join the seminary was influenced by a number of life experiences, which include a period where he was engaged.
He said that he seriously considered a vocation to the married life, but that this did not work out.
Christhian said that he wanted to pursue this vocation, but after his decision to move to Australia in 2015 to complete further study, he said that he discerned that perhaps married life was not for him.
Christhian said that his first weeks at the seminary had been an amazing experience and that he was enjoying learning how to live in community with other men studying for the priesthood.
“You get to know a lot of people,” he said.
A highlight of his first couple of months at the seminary has included an orientation retreat with the first-year students at St Paul’s Missionary College Retreat Centre in Wantirna.
This involved all five first year students, including Tue Pham (Vietnamese), Ignatius Tan (Singaporean), Ezekiel Hangan (local) and Christhian (Colombian) for the Melbourne Archdiocese, as well as Peter Cay (Vietnamese), who is studying for the Ballarat Diocese.
The first-years orientation retreat was led by the seminary’s first-year formator Fr Ed Moloney and Marea Richardson. Other guest speakers were also present at the Retreat.
One of the highlights of the Retreat for Christhian involved watching the movie, Molokai, which is based on the true story of a 19th century priest, Fr Damian, who volunteered to go to the island of Molokai to care for and minister to lepers.
Christhian said that this story about the priest’s interaction with lepers moved him deeply.
“He lived his entire life in Christ for these people to be with them, to understand them and to be merciful,” he said.
Christhian said that he wanted to share God’s mercy with others as a future priest.
He said that he had experienced this mercy himself after he drifted away from the Church and did not practice his faith at one stage.
“We are here to turn to God and follow him,” Christhian said.
Prior to joining Corpus Christi College at the beginning of this year, Christhian said that he completed a bachelor degree in information technology at university in Colombia. He later came to Australia in 2015 to complete his masters in information technology at RMIT University in Melbourne.
During this period, he also worked as a cleaner for hotels in the Melbourne CBD and volunteered on soup kitchens to help offer hospitality to the poor and homeless. He also became involved with St Fidelis Parish in Moreland and was supported by Fr David Cartwright in his discernment for the priesthood.
“It was a good experience,” Christhian said.
Christhian is passionate about his Catholic faith and enjoys attending daily Mass as well as praying the Rosary each day. Eucharistic Adoration is also an important part of his prayer life.
His hobbies include swimming, writing and watching movies.
For more information about a vocation to the priesthood, contact your local parish priest or the vocations director of your diocese.