Campus Ministry is enriching seminarians’ experience
For many people, what happens in seminaries could be something of a mystery. Other than studying theology and liturgy, and practising preaching, what else is required?
Fourth year Good Shepherd (Sydney) seminarian, Abraham Leota, explains that pastoral experience in a wide variety of settings is integral. “We are given the opportunity to participate in different pastoral work placements, in order to learn and serve.”
Currently Abraham, who is of Samoan/Tokelauan descent and grew up in Punchbowl, and Alexander Thomas, who came to Australia from Kenya, are working with the Campus Ministry teams at North Sydney and Strathfield Campuses of ACU respectively.
Each of the young men have carefully discerned the call to priesthood. Alexander left all that was familiar behind to respond to Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green’s invitation to join the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes. Abraham recalls,
“I had a great life, a great job … however, I was somewhat restless.”
Fast forward several years and both men are immersed in seminary life and hopeful of a fruitful priestly ministry.
Abraham says he is, “incredibly open to the experience of being here at ACU and looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty.”
Alexander admits, “At first I was anxious about getting used to the campus and the students but I’m delighted to have had a chance to be with and serve a diverse mix of students.
"They were welcoming and supportive. I’m impressed by their dedication to
exploring their faith and values.”
Campus Pastoral Associates on each campus have supported and encouraged the seminarians. Abraham says, “I’ve been shadowing and learning a lot from Paolo Grella”, while Alex has not only shared the vision of Jean-Claude Attieh in terms of ministering to students, but also shared allegiance to the English Premier League!
The variety of ways in which Abraham and Alex can be involved is unlimited – from prayer and devotional opportunities to Connect groups, bible and theological study and conversations that go deeper.
It’s clear that in his own way, each man is kicking goals in terms of what Abraham identifies as:
“that continual call by Pope Francis to go into the peripheries, to be with the people, not to be ashamed to go out and spread the joy of the Gospel.”
The students of ACU Strathfield and North Sydney and the priests-in-the-making have much to offer each other.