Eight new seminarians have been entrusted into the hands of St John Bosco by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, with the opening Mass for the seminary year falling on the feast of the priest, teacher and founder of the Salesians.
The Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush is now home to 46 seminarians, from nine Latin Rite dioceses and three Eastern Rite eparchies.
The new students gathered with family, friends and vocations directors for Mass on 31 January, celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who welcomed them to their new home and commended their attraction to Christ’s mission.
“As Don Bosco knew very well, it takes a home and a village to raise a child: so, too, it takes a seminary and diocese to raise a priest,” Archbishop Fisher said.
“Our church needs good priests now more than ever: we pray they are happening before our very eyes.”
Though not the largest group in recent years, vice-rector and pastoral director Fr Paul Durkin says the continued strong intakes are a continued testament to Christ the Good Shepherd calling his flock to join his mission.
In only his second year in the role, Fr Paul and the team are continuing this year to provide an improved experience for each new group of students, centred on Jesus.
“We are very mindful that these young men come from very different religious, work and ethnic backgrounds, but the thing that unifies us is our life in Christ and our love for the church,” he said.
“We’re always refining the idea of accompanying the seminarians in the best way so that they may discern their vocation and where possible, be the priest they can be.”
He says their foundation for discernment will be laid in the first year, when seminarians are introduced to spiritual, human, academic and pastoral formation.
Archbishop Fisher in his homily said it was important to form seminarians who are happy in the Lord.
“And how are we to make happy seminarians?” the archbishop asked.
“Well, we could do worse than follow Paul’s advice to cultivate a holy happiness, through prayer and thanksgiving, through filling our minds with everything noble and good, our hearts with everything virtuous and praiseworthy, our souls with everything lovely and pure.
“And we can, like Don Bosco, seek to make this youth refuge for street kids that is Good Shepherd Seminary, a place for building relationships with good companions and future saints.”
Quoting the saintly educator, the archbishop urged seminarians to not “put off tomorrow the good you can do today” and in that good “make the glory of God your main goal.”
The new students will shortly begin their year with a retreat before returning to begin their discernment and formation under first year director Fr Dominic Nguyen.
“And so, my dear sons,” said the archbishop, “I say with St John Bosco: ‘Servite Domino in lætitia,’ serve the Lord with gladness.”