Arriving at Campion College near Parramatta at the end of July 2008 I was just in time to start the second semester, but I had missed WYD SYD. I remember wondering what God's purposes were, that He had brought me to the other side of the world. Nevertheless, I was keen to be the best priest that I could be to my new but small community at Campion College.
I had heard about Campion College a couple of years earlier, and indeed, I had posted about it on this blog. I was, and am, convinced of the mission of the new Liberal Arts Colleges that have been inaugurated in recent years in various parts of the world. That while much of secular culture is putting its roots behind it, these pioneering places of learning are guardians to an immensely important heritage.
My first delight at Campion College was to be welcomed by, and to get to know the students - my first real contact with Australians. And secondly, to integrate myself as a member of staff so that I could better dispose myself to the mission of being the first full-time chaplain.
The celebration of Holy Mass, adoration, confession, spiritual direction, seminars, trips out and, of course, cooking and BBQing were the staple ingredients of my life. The student community was quite small so I was soon able to get to know the whole student body. It was a huge joy for me to come to know these young Catholics and to experience their hopes and ideals, their faith and their love for Christ and for His Church, and to serve and support their life in the Church.
As those first weeks went past I began to realise just what a great impact WYD had had on the young Catholics of Sydney. Sydney was aglow with the grace of WYD! I became aware of lots of initiatives, many of them set up by young Catholics, as a response to the Holy Father's presence at WYD in Sydney. I was soon being called upon to take part in events being organised in both Parramatta Diocese and the Sydney Archdiocese. Then, after just two years at the College I was called to take part, full-time, in the preparation of men for the priesthood at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Sydney.
I will always be grateful to Campion College for its part in bringing me out to Australia. I hope that my small part in the life of the College at its inception might bear good fruit, and I hope that the College goes from strength to stregth, establishing itself in the great mission of the New Evangelisation.