Our Church is changing. In some really big ways, but also in the small, not-so-obvious ways that go almost unnoticed, until one day you look back and think “when did that happen?” We see it in the pews at Mass – there are fewer people, especially since COVID-19. And those who attend represent a more multicultural congregation. We saw it at the Plenary Council earlier this year, where there was a clear call for the role of women in the Church to be redefined. We see it in the passionate way the Holy Father talks about caring for all God’s creatures, and the focus on Laudato Si’ across our parishes and schools.
This time of year, at Holy Spirit Seminary, my mind goes to those beginning their journey to the priesthood. Here, too, we have seen change in the number and demographic of our seminarians. Today, we have fifteen men here at Banyo and God has blessed us with three young men who will begin their first year in the coming months. Their decision to enter the seminary is so unexpected in today’s society; counter-cultural in many ways. So, we prepare to welcome them and strive to give them the best formation to lead a changing church.
Regardless of age or background, they are a singular group of men with their minds and hearts always tuned to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit within themselves. I take comfort in the knowledge that no matter how much things change, that call from God continues. One of our seminarians who was ordained to the diaconate in November last year was Minje Kim. He has been at Holy Spirit Seminary for six years and came to us from South Korea at the age of 26. When I asked him about his road to the priesthood so far, Minje said:
“When I first arrived in Australia, I was simply here as a tourist. I wanted to see the Sydney Opera House and hold some koalas! I also wanted to see how Australians worshipped God.”
It is this curiosity about the Catholic Church in Australia that ultimately led Minje here, to Holy Spirit Seminary. When he landed in Brisbane, he met with the then-Vocation Brisbane director Fr Morgan Batt who took him to the Ignite Conference, a Catholic youth festival.
Minje describes this conference as life-changing. Despite hearing the call to the priesthood, he was concerned about his grasp of the English language, his family and commitments at home, and the financial implications of life as a seminarian in Brisbane.
“Fr Morgan told me that nobody was ever perfectly ready to enter the seminary. I just needed to trust in God.”
Gifts to support seminarians at Holy Spirit Seminary made it possible for Minje to answer the call and stay the course. As he prepares to take the final step towards life as a priest, I ask you to please consider a financial contribution to support those future priests who may be similarly exploring their calling. With your help, they can start the formation journey to be true shepherds of the flock.
These young men are on a journey to a life of service to the Church and their fellow man. It requires training, study, and deep knowledge of self. They need an intuitive understanding of people and human nature. To make sure they are ready, our seminarians are immersed in their studies and training, but they also spend a lot of time in prayer – deepening their relationship with God and engaging in dialogue with Him as they continue to discern their path.
Yours in Christ,
Father Neil Muir
Rector, Holy Spirit Seminary Banyo