After living for one year on campus at Campion College I was invited to live at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd. I was very grateful to the staff of the seminary for this invitation and for the way in which my Australian mission developed in a particularly priestly way. So, as well as my work at Campion College I was now taking part in some of the seminary Liturgies, hearing confessions and giving some evening seminars to the seminarians. And after a second year in Sydney the unexpected happened: I was asked to join the seminary staff full-time and to concentrate my efforts in the preparation of men for the priesthood in Sydney.
My work at the seminary included presiding and preaching at some Liturgies, being a Spiritual Director to individuals, hearing confessions, directing seminarian retreats, giving seminars to the different year groups, giving some liturgical formation and training in preaching.
I had never expected to find myself working in a seminary, still less the seminary of the Archdiocese of Sydney, yet our God is a God of surprises. More than anything that I was able to give to the young men preparing for ordination, the priestly enrichment which I received as a member of staff was utterly grace-filled. I became aware of the great generosity of the young men who were offering themselves to the Church, their desire for Christ and the life of grace, and their desire to embrace Christ’s mission in New South Wales. I was aware of their joy at stepping out of the secular culture and their eagerness to proclaim Christ’s Gospel. And that I should be a part of this enterprise, if only for three years, was enormously renewing for me.
The formation of, and the renewal of the Diocesan Priesthood has, for many years now, had a special place in my outlook, but my part in the life of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd has opened me more strongly to the greatness of the Diocesan Priesthood and the call which it is receiving from the Church today. So much was this the case that I am aware now that my four years in Sydney were in fact an extraordinary time of priestly renewal for me. Most people go out to Australia to work or to tour round; I was brought out by God for an intense experience of priestly life and grace!