By: Very Rev. Denis Stanley EV
It is with great pleasure and Gospel joy that I formally welcome the first-year seminarians to Corpus Christi College this afternoon.
I acknowledge too the presence of family and friends who have come to support them and remember those family and friends of the first-year students who could not be here today. We are well aware that our family and friends (and our enemies too!) are our first formators.
I welcome Jamie Castillo, Blake Crossley, Rhys Lowther, Joshua Mcdermid, Truong Nguyen, Joseph Schaefer, Ian Vergel, John Vespa and Aidan Williams and Edward (EJ) Ibarra.
I would like to acknowledge in particular the presence of Fr David Cartwright and Fr Nicholas Pearce, from the Vocations office for the Melbourne Archdiocese and introduce the staff of Corpus Christi here today – Fr Cameron Forbes, the Vice-rector, Fr Ed Moloney the First Year Formator, Fr Thinh Nguyen one of the formators, Fr Jake Mudge, the Director of Pastoral Work and Fr Cao Nguyen, the college’s Spiritual Director.
Unable to be present is Dr Catherine Playoust, the Academic Dean, who the first-years will meet very shortly to sort out their academic programme.
I am sure that our formal welcome to the first-year seminarians will have a strong impact on them – after all today is the fruit of much prayer, thought and encouragement, there is the inevitable element of feeling that they are taking a risk, a leap of trust, everything is new and all eyes are on them.
Yet the impact of today should also be felt equally by all the students here – even the most senior ones – it should renew in them the memory of the first day they came to the seminary, of their hopes and fears they felt, of the kind of person they were then and who they have become now.
Of what they understood about their vocation then and what they understand now, of how they understood the mystery of Christ and his church then and how they understand it now.
Yes, this gathering is called the “welcome to new students” but perhaps we should rename it. Perhaps it should be called the “welcome to everyone on their journey of discernment – new and old seminarians together.”
No matter the impact that today might have on you, the new seminarians, I would like to share with you that your presence is having just as much an impact on those who have been here for any number of years.
Today is a day of new beginnings and renewal for everyone. It must be so.
This Sunday the gospel we heard was the beatitudes – what life looks like in the kingdom. As it has been said, “the beatitudes are not platitudes”. They can be hard work...but does anything else ultimately satisfy?
The seminary is a place where we say, “no, nothing else really satisfy” and so we, here, are ready to offer ourselves for the vision of the Kingdom that the lord lays before us, invites us to continually enter and where we explore, in all its rigour and depth, how we might become servants of that Kingdom as priestly disciples, shepherds, fishermen and washers of feet.
On behalf of the staff of the college, and our bishop trustees, I renew my sincerest welcome to everyone and invoke the Holy Spirit’s gifts of courage and joy on each and all.
Photos: William Lowry & JC Napoles