An interview with Monsignor Randazzo

Known best as "Mons" by his students, Monsignor Anthony Randazzo was rector at Holy Spirit Seminary for 7 years. Before leaving in December 2015, Monsignor shared his reflections on his time at Banyo.

What is it like to look back over the last seven years of your time here at the Seminary?

I have an overwhelming sense of privilege. I feel the utmost respect and admiration for the bishops who have entrusted me with this ministry. It’s often said that it’s the most difficult task in the Church of the modern day. I don’t think the role of rector is necessarily difficult, I find it engaging. I get up every morning with a great enthusiasm for what greets me in the day, and I go to bed at night feeling exhausted having worked throughout the day. It gives me a great sense of fulfilment, a feel a great blessing upon my time as a priest. I look back, of course there have been wonderful times of great joy, and there have been challenging times, which have really pushed me on a little bit further, but through it all I see and overwhelming consistency in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Why do you think we have seen a revival in the ordination numbers in recent years?

The men that we’ve ordained in the last 7 years are directly a product of conscious effort to generate awareness of vocations in the Church. You know, a good ten years ago now in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Archbishop Bathersby sat down and said, “What do we do to change the culture? How are we going to go about making an awareness and bringing people into an engagement with vocations promotions?” So it’s not just been in the last seven years that I’ve been here, this has been an ongoing programme that has been developing at the local level, it has been most obvious in the Archdiocese of Brisbane because there are more people here. But it doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening in the Province as well. In the other dioceses the bishops and the priests are slowly trying to activate a consciousness of the need for good, wholesome, missionary priests within our own local Church.

So I think that’s the first thing – a consciousness. And I think that consciousness came from prophetic leadership by the bishop.

We’ve also had fifty years of prophetic Popes in living memory – or certainly in my living memory – of this amazing engagement with the Church’s mission. The Second Vatican Council said, very simply, the reform of the Church begins with the form and education of the clergy. So when our priests and when our young people are starting to engage in living a Gospel life, in living a rich Sacramental life, and directing that life toward the mission of the Church in the world, then I think we’re going to see a resurgence of vocations. And not just priestly vocations, but marriage vocations, religious vocations, and single vocations.

How do you feel seeing 27 men ordained over the last seven years?

It’s the closest thing that a celibate priest will come to know fatherhood. It’s been one of those challenges, because to understand what it means to be the father to somebody you also have to understand what it means to be the son to somebody. As rector, I have had to look back on my own experience growing up. I’ve drawn from my own relationship with my father. I’ve also had to look at my own relationship as a young man in the Church, as a seminarian and as a priest in relationship to the spiritual fathers that I had – my parish priests, the priest formators in the seminary, my bishops; these are the people who have formed me. I have tried to pass on some of the richness of the gifts that my fathers have given to me. I have tried in turn to pass that on to the sons who have been entrusted to me at the seminary.

Do you have a favourite memory?

I can remember towards the beginning of my time as rector, one of the seminarians who came to the seminary was, I thought, an extremely capable man. But he was almost paralysed with fear. And that meant that anything that was asked of him would send him almost into a state of shock or paralysis. And over a period of time as he started to respond in faith, to respond with trust, to give himself to the power of the Holy Spirit… it was like watching somebody just bloom.

That man is ordained now and he is one of the finest young priests that I have seen. His parish priest is just delighted with the way he approaches his ministry. He has a pastoral care and oversight which is just beautiful. He empathises with people; he can stand with them and laugh; he can stand with them and cry. He preaches well. He celebrates the Sacraments with dignity and with beauty. He’s a caring kind of person. And he’s also allowing himself to be formed as he lives this vocation of the priesthood. Watching someone come from that state of what I would call almost fear and paralysis through to a thriving young shepherd who is just eager to be led by the Holy Spirit was definitely the highlight for me.

Do you know the new rector? Can you tell us a little about him?

I do know Monsignor Grace. Monsignor Grace is a Rockhampton priest, he himself was formed here at the seminary at Banyo in the 1960s. From memory I think he came to the seminary in February 1964. He was ordained a priest in August of 1970 and over these last 45 years has had an amazing and diverse ministry within the diocese of Rockhampton and beyond. He is highly respected; he has been the chair of the Provincial Finance Council for quite a number of years. He has been administrator of the diocese of Rockhampton at least on two occasions when the bishops had either passed away or retired. He is a very pastoral man, who is very well respected in the diocese of Rockhampton, but also throughout the province and beyond.

When I see and when I talk to Monsignor Grace I think of wisdom. I see he has had a great experience of faith, life, and a man attentive to the movement and the call of the Spirit in his own life.

Feature image: After his Farewell Mass: Monsignor Anthony Randazzo and Archbishop Emeritus John Bathersby

In 2015, Holy Spirit Seminary had 15 seminarians and celebrated 3 ordinations to the priesthood.