Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has announced the appointment of Fairfield parish priest Fr Michael de Stoop as the next rector of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd.
He will replace the current rector Fr Danny Meagher who reaches the end of his term after six years at the helm.
In a letter to parishioners at Our Lady of the Rosary in Fairfield, Archbishop Fisher said he was grateful Fr de Stoop had accepted the role of guiding the formation and training of Sydney’s future priests.
“I am aware that many of you will be sad on hearing the news of Fr Michael’s departure,” the archbishop wrote. “But at the same time you will appreciate the gifts he will bring to his new task in forming the next generation of priests for Sydney.
“I know the love he has for his own vocation as a priest will enable him to fulfil his new role helping our seminarians and future priests to respond to their call with pastoral charity and an inner conviction brought about by deep peace and profound joy.”
The much-loved pastor said he was “greatly honoured and deeply touched” at the archbishop’s surprise request. “God was very powerfully present to me in that moment,” he said.
A former vocations director for the Archdiocese of Sydney and a spiritual director, Fr de Stoop is also the first seminary’s first rector to be one of its alumni.
In his vision for its future he takes inspiration from St Paul’s prayer in his letter to the Ephesians, that the Holy Spirit will help “your hidden self grow strong”. “I hope to be a conduit for the seminarians to grow strong so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith,” he said.
Ministering at Fairfield has been a “rewarding experience” Fr de Stoop added, particularly overseeing its growth from a ‘maintenance-style’ to a missionary parish with spiritual formation and pastoral outreach initiatives.
“We don’t want to lose him but it is a great honour and he does deserve it,” said long-time parishioner and volunteer Teresa Zamirowski. “He’s very special and has met every challenge with outstanding gentleness. I’m going to miss his sermons which are so deep and really from the heart.”
Fr de Stoop will go to the seminary in Homebush for a handover period from mid-October to prepare to take up the role early next year.