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Saint of the day


The centre of my life is my relationship with Jesus

Deacon Thomas Duncan

Deacon Thomas (right) with Deacon Joshua Whitehead

Deacon Tom Duncan is looking ahead to his ordination next month with great excitement and, most of all, he’s looking forward to celebrating his first Mass. He said in some ways there was no other answer. “(Mass) is not the only thing a priest does of course, but it is at the heart of the priesthood,” he said. “And when the call to the priesthood first came to me, it was really grounded in that – I looked forward to celebrating the sacred liturgy.”

Deacon Duncan’s call went back to his time at Marist College, Ashgrove. “I was at a time in my life where I started to pray and have an interest in the Bible, just more of a consciousness of the presence of Jesus,” he said. “I didn’t really make sense of it at the time, that that was going on with me.”

But as the real world loomed at the end of his Year 12 studies, he told himself he had to make a decision about what he wanted to do with this life. “It’s a huge thing to be put to you at that stage,” he said, “and I thought I had it all more or less fairly worked out. “I never had any huge, big dreams. “I thought I’d come back to Miles and become a builder like my dad, probably take over his business and get married and live a normal life like my mates.”

But a deep emptiness revealed itself within him. “That was frightening because all of a sudden I had this sense that everything I wanted to do and everything I thought was my life totally wasn’t my life,” Deacon Duncan said. He wasn’t sure where to go or what to do. “But I had this sense deep down that I couldn’t do that for the rest of my life – I could go there but once I achieve that, then what? There was something missing.”

So he turned to God. He asked God what God wanted him to do. “All of a sudden, things changed and it’s difficult to say how I heard it or how I felt it, but the word priesthood or the idea of the priesthood was in my mind,” he said.


Will you support other young men, like Tom, discern the priesthood? Your support will help our parishes and ministries now, and into the future.


It was never a path Deacon Duncan had considered. “And I thought, ‘No way, that’s not me’,” he said. “I was always in trouble at school and I guess I was seen as one of the naughty boys, and it just seemed so opposite to what I was like. “And I pushed that idea away. “But the more I pushed it away, the more it came back and it was a niggling thought. “And the more I sort of avoided it, the more I felt like I was lying to myself somehow, which is quite an unsettling feeling.”

Eventually, he gave in and consented to the Lord, saying, “Lord, if that’s what you want me to do, make it happen because I have no idea.” Deacon Duncan had never heard of a seminary or a seminarian at that point. “When I accepted it and thought ‘Okay, well maybe that’s what I’m going to do’, I imagined myself as a priest in the future, and I felt the opposite of that emptiness,” he said. “There was this fullness and this fire in my belly that was also startling because I didn’t know that was possible.”​

Once he committed, he ended up at Canali House, a house of discernment in Brisbane, and seven years later, he said that initial calling had deepened considerably. It was a very different life from his small hometown of Miles, about two-and-a-half hours west of Toowoomba – but still within Toowoomba diocese, where he currently has his diaconate placement.

But between his time in Brisbane at Marist College and in the seminary and his time in his country town of Miles, Toowoomba felt like a good middle ground. “It feels like home even though it’s very different from where I come from,” Deacon Duncan said. “I feel at home here with the people here, and I have a sense that these are the people I’m called to minister to. “It feels like coming home.”

Deacon Duncan had learned a lot about the importance of the people of God in his diaconate too. “In some ways it’s obvious, to be a priest, it’s a life oriented towards God’s people and service but I didn’t realise how much I needed them in my own spiritual life until now, really,” he said. “Like my own prayer life is nourished by the relationships, the ministry relationships, I have in my parish, which was unexpected.”

Over the course of his formation, he said he had many role models but none more influential than Bishop Anthony Randazzo, who was rector at Holy Spirit Seminary for about half Deacon Duncan’s tenure there. “He was very personally invested in each one of us, deeply,” he said. “And we – I say we because others felt the same – we knew that he cared for us, genuinely.

“Something about that allowed us to connect in a special way, but allowed me to learn from him more deeply because I was more open or I could value more what he had to offer.”

Deacon Duncan said Bishop Randazzo was a bloke who knew what he was talking about and that he had learned a great deal from that. Looking forward into his own priestly ministry, Deacon Duncan said his prayer life was at the core of who he was. “The centre of my life is my relationship with Jesus,” he said. “Being with Christ all day every day, I’d say that is my life and that’s something I hope will characterise and shine through in my day-to-day ministry.

“Because it’s that time I spend in prayer each day that nourishes me but not only nourishes me but gives me energy – it’s the core of who I am. I feel like I’m not myself when I don’t have the opportunity to pray, and I certainly don’t feel like I’d be a real priest if I didn’t have that.”

 

Published in The Catholic Leader, 16 May 2019


Will you consider supporting the next generation of priests studying at Holy Spirit Seminary? A gift – no matter the size – will help to provide for the education and formation of 23 seminarians currently studying at the seminary.


 


“Welcome to Holy Spirit Seminary”

Monsignor John Grace and the staff at Holy Spirit Seminary welcomed six new seminarians to Banyo this year. Starting the year with a Commencement Mass, Msgr Grace reflected on the occasion with the following sentiments:

Looking out at the congregation gathered for our Seminary Commencement Mass on Sunday, one face stood out to me. Shining with pride and a mother’s love, Angela Greathead was clearly moved to see her son Michael sitting among his fellow seminarians for the first time.

A local from Banyo, Michael is one of six seminarians who have begun their journey at Holy Spirit Seminary this year. After the Mass Angela said, “Michael was up early and ready to go…it reminded me of his first day of school!”

I am sure all of the new seminarians feel the same way – enthusiastic to be starting their formation journey and blessed to have family, friends and supporters who believe in them.

This year, 23 seminarians are discerning a life of service to the priesthood and studying at Banyo. They will be guided along their journey by our committed staff of clergy, religious and lay people. We warmly welcome Father Kevin Smith, who is joining us in the role of vice-rector and director of the pastoral program.

Every one of us deeply appreciates your prayers, encouragement and thoughtful financial support to strengthen our Church. This work would not be possible without your devotion to the growth of the Church in Queensland.

Please join me in praying for the seminarians. I look forward to watching that “first day of school” excitement develop into a deeper love of service for the Church and a personal joy in their vocational call.

New Seminarians (l-r), Anthony Gawlu, Dominic Mariano, Jesse Smith, Fr Kevin Smith, Peter Doherty, Monsignor John Grace, Michael Greathead, and BJ Perret.


Giving a child a better future

Clairvaux Mackillop studentsA child from a family in crisis, who can only dream of a Catholic education, has had their prayer answered, thanks to your faith in her potential.

Sitting in her classroom, Vanessa’s* eyes light up and a huge grin spreads over her face. Mr Brian Eastaughffe is principal of Clairvaux MacKillop College on Brisbane’s southside and loves seeing this expression. He explains: “It’s the moment she finally understands what her teacher has been explaining. You can almost feel her confidence swell.

“As an educator, you cheer on every child, but when they have experienced a disadvantaged background, these moments mean just a little bit more.”

Vanessa’s positive experience is just one example of the vital work of the Mary MacKillop Catholic School Access Fund. The MacKillop Fund is a unique bursary program that supports families experiencing extreme circumstances. Some are refugees and others are coping with a major loss, illness or family breakdown.

Having witnessed first-hand the life-changing benefit of the MacKillop Fund, Mr Eastaughffe believes the fund reflects our core mission as a Catholic organisation and reminds us that supporting vulnerable children is an essential part of who we are. “New buildings and the latest equipment are wonderful, but seeing a vulnerable child realise their potential is one of the most powerful things in the world,” said Brian Eastaughffe.

In 2018, five students (who were the first to receive a MacKillop bursary in 2014) will graduate high school. This wouldn’t have been possible without your support!

The Fund is named in honour of Australia’s first saint who committed her life to give children in need a quality Catholic education – the Fund continues her legacy. With your help, more students will be given the opportunity to achieve their unique potential through the gift of Catholic education.

* We’ve changed Vanessa’s name to protect her privacy, but please know that her story is real. Photos of actual bursary recipients are not used as their identities are kept in confidence.

 


A new phase of ministry

Over the decades, priests show their faithful dedication to their vocation and the teaching of Jesus and His saving mission. These men of God have travelled with us and our families for generations and are grateful to be present in your lives. Even as they enter their senior years, they continue to fulfil their calling give invaluable support to their brother priests, parishioners and our community through pray, word and deed. It is a generosity for which we are very grateful.

As they reach their later years, it is now our turn to care and provide for them.

Like Father Clifford Ellis. He retired from his parish in 2012 because of poor health – well before the ‘official’ retirement age of 75. Thanks to your support, he was able to get the care and support he needed to find a new home, medical and convalescent care.

On his recovery, he was also able to take on a new ‘assignment’ – as a mentor to a young man about to enter Holy Spirit Seminary. Now, six years later, Father Ellis and the newly ordained Deacon Joshua Whitehead are still firm friends.

The Priests Foundation provides vital services to sick or elderly priests who have given their lives to offer Christ’s love to the spiritually poor. Your ongoing generosity demonstrates your genuine care for the well-being of our priests and honours their freely given service to God and the Church, now and into the future.

Will you consider a gift to the Priests Foundation?

Gifts over $2 are tax-deductible.





Memory Cafes support people living with dementia and families

Memory CafeCathie and Phil’s story reads like one long love story.

They met when Cathie was 14, only a few years out from her native Scotland and have been together ever since. They’ve two children and three beautiful grandchildren, spread between New Zealand and Melbourne. Their marriage has stretched beyond 50 years, forged by challenges that would have shaken others apart.

For the last 20 years, Phil has lived with dementia. He was diagnosed at age 55 when he was riding high in Australia’s corporate world. “He was almost genius level,” Cathie said, recalling the razor-sharp mind that mixed with empathy and humour to create a highly-regarded manager. And then Phil started “losing his words”.

Cathie had noticed it but thought nothing of it. But one of Phil’s good friends noticed it. He was a doctor, and adamant Phil be tested. “I’m just so glad he told us – those early tests meant that we could get treatment straight away.”

But the last 18 months at home with Phil have created new challenges. Phil has recently lost the ability to recognise what he’s looking at. “He can hold a photo of his children and grandchildren but he doesn’t realise that they’re the family he has loved dearly,” she said.


Find out more on how you can help support the most vulnerable people in our community


How does she cope with the strain as this great love story enters this phase? “We have a great love for each other,” Cathie said. “That has helped us a lot. Right from the beginning, we had a partnership. Also, I’m pretty stubborn. That’s a part of it.”

Cathie was never too stubborn to ask for help but, like many encountering dementia for the first time, she didn’t know there was help available, so she just pushed on. Eventually, a medical professional came to Cathie to discuss the best ways to help Phil. “She asked me if I had heard of Centacare. I was quite naïve – I didn’t know anything about them,” Cathie said.

“But Centacare has helped me a lot. They do so much work with partners of people with dementia. I know that if I ever had any trouble or don’t know what to do next, I can turn to Centacare and they will help me.”

Phil attends Centacare three days each week. The visits help him to socialise and to continue his long fight against the effects of dementia. Cathie has become a regular at Centacare’s Memory Café – an innovation that is spreading across the Archdiocese.

The Memory Café brings together people with dementia and their carers. They swap stories, socialise, hear from industry professionals and enjoy each other’s company. The Memory Café at the Churches of Christ’s Moonah Park at Mitchelton last month drew one of its largest crowds. Cathie was among them.

“I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to come to the Memory Café when they started,” she said. “It’s a great idea. It’s great for people to speak to each other. Everyone I talk with has different symptoms. But, really, they are all the same symptoms.

“People may say: ‘my husband does this’. It’s different to what my husband does, but I can understand how it affects them.”

The idea for the Memory Café was sparked by the first Alzheimer Café in the Netherlands in 1997 that was set up to help with the emotional elements of living with dementia including fear, helplessness and stress.

Centacare’s Memory Cafés are held bi-monthly at Mitchelton, Gympie, Hervey Bay and Kingaroy. For more information, phone Centacare on 1300 236 822


Ordination into the priesthood

True friends share everything – even the emotional day they are ordained priests. Fr Thomas Zaranski and Fr Damien Everitt first met in 2015 as seminarians at Holy Spirit Seminary, Banyo.

They took their friendship to the next level when Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge ordained both men priests on Friday, 29 June 2018, the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, at the Cathedral of St Stephen. “It’ll be a day we remember for the rest of our lives,” Fr Thomas said.

It was an almost surreal moment for Fr Damien who has been thinking about his ordination day for more than 25 years. The 43-year-old first entered the seminary as a young teenager in 1992. “Having done four years of the journey at that stage, I just felt that I was a bit too young to be going forward for the priesthood at the time,” said Fr Damien.

He left the seminary in 1996 to pursue a career in social work. After establishing a solid career as a social worker, Fr Everitt took another break to drive buses for the Brisbane City Council. But the thought of the priesthood still lingered. “I always felt the calling had never left me, I always felt I had something to offer the Church for me in the future,” Fr Damien added.


Will you support the future of the Church through Holy Spirit Seminary?


In 2015, around 23 years after first entering the seminary, Fr Damien returned to Holy Spirit Seminary to complete his priestly studies. At that stage Fr Thomas had already completed three years of priestly formation, having joined the seminary on February 5, 2012.

Having thought about becoming a priest as a young boy, Fr Thomas said the decision became clear during the ordination of Brisbane priest Fr Nigel Sequeira.

“I remember my first ordination was Fr Nigel Sequeira, and that was just the year before I went to the seminary. That was a really powerful moment for my own vocation discernment, to come to an ordination.”

As he prepared for his own ordination, Fr Zaranski prayed for the young men who might be watching him make the commitment to serve the Church for the rest of his life.

“I’m sure they’ll be, God willing, guys in the congregation who will be thinking about priesthood and thinking about coming to the seminary. Hopefully, this will be a moment for them.” Fr Thomas said.

During their seminary days, Fr Thomas and Fr Damien formed a close brotherhood – they even shared a holiday to New Zealand together. But their ordination day will be the most memorable date in their friendship.


From mentor to friend. How retired priest Ellis Clifford is supporting Deacon Joshua Whitehead on his journey to the priesthood.


“It’s a funny feeling though,” Fr Damien said. “The moment has come.”

Aside from the nerves that priests-to-be feel, Fr Thomas said he also felt “a sense of inadequacy.” “A lot of thanks too because just today on my phone and my email, people are sending me kind messages,” he said. “And all those people have played a role in getting me to this point. You can’t do it on your own, you realise that from the very start and when you get to here, you think so many people have touched my life. It’s just so beautiful.”

Looking back on seven years of generosity and support from people across Brisbane, Fr Thomas is just keen “to give back” through the sacramental life of a priest in Birkdale.

“I feel like in the seminary and the parish I’ve received more than I’ve given. People have been so generous and so I feel in my own way, as best as I can, to give back. This is a role of service and (Fr) Damien and myself are fair dinkum about that.”


Meet new deacons Joshua Whitehead and Thomas Duncan

Prayer, study, reflection, work, serve.

After a journey that has spanned six years, Joshua Whitehead and Thomas Duncan have been ordained deacons.

Surrounded by family, friends, clergy and supporters Deacons Joshua and Thomas took a major step towards ministerial priesthood on Friday, 16 November at the Holy Spirit Chapel, Banyo.

Deacon Joshua Whitehead will be appointed to St Stephen’s Cathedral parish as a deacon for the term of his temporary diaconate. He praised his time at the seminary. “I’m just so grateful to the seminary formation staff and the students that I’ve journeyed with over these last six years. I’m looking forward to serving the cathedral and the parish and having lots of opportunities for preaching, Baptisms and ministry, and just being with the people.”


From mentor to friend. How retired priest Ellis Clifford is supporting Deacon Joshua Whitehead on his journey to the priesthood.


Deacon Thomas is preparing for the priesthood for the Toowoomba diocese, where he will serve as deacon and university chaplain.

Deacon Thomas said the Rite of Ordination to Diaconate was of paramount importance. “This, for me, is the big day,” he said. “They often see the priestly ordination as the big day but, for me, this is the big day – this is when we commit our lives to God. This is when we make our promises.”

Toowoomba Bishop Robert McGuckin celebrated the ceremony with more than one-hundred clergy and faithful present. Bishop McGuckin said, “As deacons, Thomas and Joshua will be strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, they will help the bishop and priests in the ministry of the Word, of the altar, and of charity, showing themselves to be servants of all.”


Will you show your commitment to seminarian formation? Your gift ensures that the Good News of the Gospel will continue to inspire souls for generations to come.


Ordination of deacons

An excerpt from Bishop McGuckin’s homily:

“This demands a very generous response – to be open to what is asked of them – to be open to where the spirit leads us.

Pope Francis has said if you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans. The diaconate is a call to service, not one of our plans or wants. With the help of God, (the deacons) are to go about these duties in such a way that you will recognise them as disciples of Jesus who came not to be served, but to serve.

Joshua and Thomas, never allow yourselves to be turned away from the hope offered by the Gospel.

Now you are not only hearers of the Gospel but you are also its ministers.

Being a deacon is at the same time a privilege and a challenge – a challenge continually calling for self-sacrifice.

May we pray for Tom and Josh as they take this important step today.

I extend my thanks to Monsignor (John) Grace and the staff of Holy Spirit Seminary and to all who have been involved in Thomas’ and Joshua’s formation.

Joshua and Thomas, you are to be raised to the Order of the Diaconate. The Lord has set an example that, just as he himself has done, you also should do. May God abundantly bless you in your diaconal ministry.”


Your gift honours priests in retirement

Jesus entrusted us with the task of caring for the poorest and most vulnerable among us and spreading the Good News of the Gospel. Thank you for answering that call through your gift to the Annual Catholic Campaign, which supports vital works of the Church in our local communities.

Committing your life to serve God as a priest and guiding his people for 65 years may be difficult for many to understand. Yet for 90-year-old retired priest Father Martin Doyle, saying Mass and the Eucharist was his greatest privilege.

“Saying the Mass and the homilies even on a weekday was a great thing for me and I enjoyed giving a little talk on the scriptures,” Father Martin said.

Father Martin worked across Brisbane for many years and spent 17 years at Burleigh Heads which was considered Australia’s largest parish. Despite having a stroke and retiring from full-time parish duties at the age of 62, he still travelled to the Cathedral to provide the sacrament of reconciliation for eight years.

“You want to still do something, whether it’s just to remember people in your prayers,” said Father Martin.

Reflecting on his time of service, Father Martin speaks about his gratitude for the help he has received later in life. “It’s a wonderful relief to have the Priests Foundation to look out for us,” he said. For 17 years, the Priests Foundation has continued its commitment to caring for elderly, retired and unwell priests through the responsible stewardship of funds.

Your faith and hope show your appreciation and respect for these elderly men who have given their lives in service. Thank you for your prayerfully given donation which will help retired priests without an independent income or family support access basic living assistance, convalescent care, accommodation, health and transport support to help ensure dignity in their senior years.


Thank you for all you do to support our retired priests.


Your gift is the answer to a child

A child whose family is in crisis and can only dream of a Catholic education has had their prayers answered, thanks to your faithful gift to the Annual Catholic Campaign.

The Mary MacKillop Catholic School Access Fund is one of the four vital agencies that rely on your support through the Annual Catholic Campaign.

Sitting in her classroom, Vanessa’s* eyes light up and a huge grin spreads over her face. Mr Brian Eastaughffe is principal of Clairvaux MacKillop College on Brisbane’s southside and loves seeing this expression. He explains: “It’s the moment she finally understands what her teacher has been explaining. You can almost feel her confidence swell. As an educator, you cheer on every child, but when they have experienced a disadvantaged background, these moments mean just a little bit more.”

Vanessa’s positive experience is just one example of the vital work of the Mary MacKillop Catholic School Access Fund. The MacKillop Fund is a unique bursary program that supports families experiencing extreme circumstances. Some are refugees and others are coping with a major loss, illness or family breakdown.

Having witnessed first-hand the life-changing benefit of the MacKillop Fund, Mr Eastaughffe believes the fund reflects our core mission as a Catholic organisation and reminds us that supporting vulnerable children is an essential part of who we are. “New buildings and the latest equipment are wonderful, but seeing a vulnerable child realise their potential is one of the most powerful things in the world,” said Brian Eastaughffe.

This year, 5 students who were the first to receive a MacKillop bursary in 2014 will graduate high school. This wouldn’t have been possible without your support.

The Fund is named in honour of Australia’s first saint who committed her life to give children in need a quality Catholic education – the Fund continues her legacy. With your help, more students will be given the opportunity to achieve their unique potential through the gift of Catholic education.

* We’ve changed Vanessa’s name to protect her privacy, but please know that her story is real. Photos of actual bursary recipients are not used as their identities are kept in confidence.


Thank you for your gift to the Annual Catholic Campaign and supporting children in dire need.

Your gift to the MacKillop Fund also supports the Priests Foundation, Centacare and Holy Spirit Seminary.


Thank you for educating our priests of tomorrow

Your kind support of the Annual Catholic Campaign will help to train the next generation of priests for our parishes.

You’ve been wonderfully generous in your support of Holy Spirit Seminary through the Annual Catholic Campaign. May we build upon these achievements so that the Archdiocese can continue to demonstrate God’s compassion is tangible and near at hand.

Meet Jack Ho. Born in Taiwan to a family of different faiths, Jack came to Australia when he was 13 years old to complete his education. While living with relatives, he attended Casimir College in Sydney and encountered the De La Salle Brothers, Good Samaritan Sisters and the Passionist Fathers. Over the years, Jack converted to Catholicism and here the seed for a priestly vocation was sown.

Moving to Brisbane to study music and education Jack spent the next decade successfully pursuing various careers. In a long-term relationship, Jack seemed to have it all. But in moments of reflection, he felt restless. Jack always had a rich prayer life and felt a deep peace when spending time in prayer. The road to discernment and priesthood was not easy for Jack who entered Queensland’s Holy Spirit Seminary at the age of 30.

He recalls, “I wrestled with God for many years but in the end, the words of Psalm 139, particularly ‘Thy will be done’ resonated with me and played an important part in my discernment.”

Jack is now in his fifth year at Holy Spirit Seminary and is completing a pastoral internship at Regents Park parish in Logan. He finds the pastoral ministry most rewarding. “I have the opportunity to put into practice the theoretical learnings and immerse myself in the lives of the parishioners. Being able to share in their journeys and vulnerabilities is a privilege and I feel grateful,” says Jack.

“We are most thankful to those who support Holy Spirit Seminary, financially and through prayer. Your generosity allows us to have the necessary resources and opportunities, ensuring we are well prepared for our lives in ministry.”


Thank you for your faithful support which gives the 22 seminarians currently studying at Holy Spirit Seminary in Banyo a high-quality education, formation and modest living conditions, as they prepare to serve our parishes and ministries.

Your gift to the Holy Spirit Seminary also supports the Priests Foundation, Mary MacKillop Catholic School Access Fund and Centacare.