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Vocations, Vocations, Vocations at Auburn

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From left, seminarian Adrian Simmons, Fr Lewi Barakat, Sr Mary Helen, Sr Susanna, School Captain Joshua Perry and Fr Daniele Russo. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

There’s something in the Holy Water at Trinity Catholic College at Auburn.

Despite being surrounded by a predominantly Islamic population, Trinity is one of the richest schools for religious vocations within the Sydney Archdiocese.

It’s an “oasis of faith” according to teaching staff who are incredibly proud of the numbers of the schools’ alumni answering the call to serve the Church.

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In the past few years the school has produced a number of vocations including Fr Lewi Barakat, an assistant priest at Liverpool, Fr Daniele Russo, an assistant priest at Menai, Sister Moana Grace who has recently made her First Profession as a Dominican sister in the USA and Good Shepherd seminarian Adrian Simmons, while another Year 12 student is currently discerning a vocation.

There have also been many former students who are now national youth and lay Church leaders in various parishes around Sydney.

Brothers in arms Fr Daniele Russo, Fr Lewi Barakat and seminarian Adrian Simmons.

The College says its Marist charism along with the arrival of the Dominican sisters following World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008 has helped to nurture such a faith-filled community.

Forty-three per cent of Auburn’s population identify as Islamic, 15.5 per cent identify as having no religion and just 9.7 per cent identify as Catholic.

Religious Education coordinator John Coppola said there was a real “sense of pride” within the school for their Catholic faith boosted by the many ethnicities who have come together as one.

He said being such a small community in a predominantly non-Christian part of Sydney has its challenges but also its strengths.

“Our school community is so diversified and multi-cultural – the one thing that really unites us is our faith,” he said.

A happy trio … Adrian Simmons, Fr Lewi and Sr Mary Helen.

“Students come from many different backgrounds including Lebanese, Filipinos, Islander, Vietnamese and Sudanese and many travel from out of the area to enrol here.

“We are a low socio-economic community, but rich in faith and formation. Faith formation is at the very heart of the College because it strives to nurture the whole person and educate them in the Catholic tradition.

“We are so much more than a trademark, a crest saying we are Catholic, we live the faith every day proudly in our local community.”

Fr Lewi Barakat said the huge “non-Catholic” population surrounding the school was very obvious during his time at the college and came with its challenges but also gave the students the opportunity to stand up publicly as Catholics.

He said wearing a Christian symbol on their uniform made them very visible yet also proud, giving them an opportunity to walk in Christ’s shoes.

Assistant Principal Donna McLaughlin in the very popular school chapel.

“We, as did any Christian symbols, stood out and to be honest could be really tough,” he said.

“But it also made us very proud of who we were, proud to stand up together as a community of Catholics.

“Having so many ethnicities at the school meant we were all very different but united in our faith.

“I love coming back to the school as it is always so welcoming and has so many happy memories.”

Rector of the Good Shepherd Seminary at Homebush Fr Danny Meagher said he was thrilled with the number of vocations coming out of the college.

“It’s great to see one of our systemic Catholic schools producing so many vocations,” he said.

“It really is a wonderful life giving everything to God, as God is everything.

“And seeing these young people doing that is exceptional.

“I congratulate Trinity for their tremendous work and look forward to more vocations in the future.”

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