By: Rev. Nathan Rawlins
Over the last two weeks, seminarians have been returning from their holiday to the seminary as the community gears up for 2019.
For many, it has been a time of relaxation- the break from the seminary routine, the responsibilities and activities of community life and the full load of studies at Catholic Theological College, gives many seminarians the much-needed time to stop, reflect and recreate in preparation for another year.
Some travelled back home- be that back to their home countries to visit or their local communities in which they grew up, reconnecting with friends and relatives for whom the seminary may still hold some mystery. Others went to live in parishes, getting to know the clergy of their diocese and the people of the parish, who welcomed them into their own families warmly.
For some there was time for pilgrimage. Jude and DJ headed off to the Holy Land to encounter the land of the scriptures and its people, to dip their feet into the sea over which the Lord walked, to kneel at the place where He died and to pray in that tomb where mysteriously death was overcome by life.
Others went on Mission trips- both abroad and closer to home. Vinh and Huy made a journey to the Philippines to work with the Claretians, helping to rebuild after Typhoon Haiyan had left the memories of many here in Australia, but whose trail of destruction still impacted so many. At the same time, Bill had journeyed to Mildura to work with migrants and local communities whose own plights brought on by drugs, natural disasters and poverty are equally forgotten, despite being in our own backyard.
Our transitional Deacons were thrust into parish life in the midst of a busy Advent and Christmas Season, to be introduced to the communities they will serve over this time and to dig their fingers into the soil of what it means to be a diocesan.
Some seminarians were selected to complete the Clinical Pastoral Education course in hospitals as an intensive over the summer. These threw themselves into 400 hours over 10 or so weeks of pastoral work and education to attain the well-respected certification.
For all, there was always prayer- often alone, praying the Divine Office quietly by book or phone. Yet every year the return to the seminary is marked by the ripple of smiles when the whole seminary community loudly sings together the Divine Office, which resonates through person and pews. It is when the wave of that opening ‘Alleluia’ has saturated the chapel’s walls with its praise that you know you are back for another year and how good it is to be back.
Photos: Denib Josette Suguitan & Vinh Do