Thursday 23 August 2012

My second community in Sydney

When I arrived in Sydney I was driven straight to Campion College where I would reside on campus for a whole year; my first endeavour there was to help build up the student body. On my second day I was visited by two very good friends, John and Niall of the St Patrick's Community in Ireland who had been giving talks during WYD. With them was one of the leaders of the Servants of Jesus Community together with one of his sons. So it was that I came into contact, for the first time, with a Covenant Community.
Extraordianrily the Servants of Jesus Community were based a little over a mile away from the campus of Campion College. They were, at that time, looking for priests who could celebrate a Sunday morning Mass with them. I was happy to oblige. For almost four years I was part of roster of priests who celebrated a Sunday Mass at their centre.
The congregation of some hundreds welcomed me so warmly that a wonderful relationship developed between us - I was very much at home with them. Not only now did I have the community of Campion College to underpin me, but I had a second community with whom I could put down roots. God in his providence is never outdone!
The friendship which developed there was grace-filled. I have never before celebrated the Mass for such a loving, attentive and supportive congregation. I was struck particularly by three features of the community: the way in which they welcomed  and embraced new members, helping them to make strides forward in the life of grace, and secondly by the number of young people, especially young men, who were part of the community and whose life of faith the Community nurtured. Thirdy, I delighted in the number of families who were a part of the Community, and the way in which the formation of the family was engendered, and the atmosphere in which the faith was handed on to younger generations.
Now that I am back in England I will miss my contact with the the Servants of Jesus Community and their support for me. Perhaps God will enable us to do a mission together in the future. After my final Mass for them just a couple of weeks ago our parting was very poignant. I was overwhelmed with their gratitude for my small part in their lives. The above photo shows the cake which they made in my honour and which we eat together before I left. I hope that the Community will go from strength to strength, and that we will all meet again.

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