My life inhabits many worlds… Some people say I am too busy. But I’m not sure that’s true. I travel a lot, and I move between different roles, or spaces, but there is a “why” and a “what for”, for each one, and I carry with me the ground I walk on, the family others have to leave behind and come back to. On a good day, I’m even aware of it?. I can wake up in the presence of the One who called me no matter where I land, so when I am focussed, that grounds my life, in the ins and outs. My own personal source and summit.

Some moments mark a special niche in my days, weeks or years and last week was one of them: a point of arrival. And departure. Two of the people I have walked and worked with during the whole year were ordained deacons.

 

Josh Whitehead and Tom Duncan during the Litany of saints

I am proud of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

A third, Emene Kelemete, who continues that same journey in his local diocese of Townsville, at the parish of Ingham with Fr Damian McGrath, welcomed me into that space, to share, verify, plan, envision.

I am proud of him as well.

 

welcoming…

                              Preaching of a Sunday

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I’m also a little jealous of the place they live and minister in!

 

With Fr Damian McGrath, parish priest of Ingham, at one of the idyllic towns nearby

Seminary formation is part of what I do…especially since the start of 2017.

I came to research and teach theology at ACU, and I still do that. But over the years, without seeking it, some of my time has been drawn into the specific task of the formation of seminarians. I had no idea it would become such a central aspect of what I do. Because formation is demanding… it’s about people and their lives, their hopes, dreams, gifts and areas of growth. So, it does take a hold of your heart and imagination, if you let it.

with the bishops of Queensland a their 2018 meeting with staff

It is a graced space, although not always an easy one. I found an unpublished blog entry from last year in my digital diary called “A Woman in a Man’s World”, that started with the words: “I think I need to face the fact that I am kidding myself about the influence I have.” I did not publish it – so who knows what I had lived that day :), and I moved beyond it. But it says something.

Most people  think it’s fantastic – a woman involved in the formation of future priests (and I am by no means the first in this seminary, which has long seen that need. Sr Ursula O’Rourke, a Good Samaritan sister and good friend, predates and keeps me sane!). It’s not rocket science… if you want balanced and mature leaders for the whole people of God, have them interact with the whole people of God. The new ratio for Priestly Formation , unfortunately, says practically nothing about lay or women on formation staff in seminaries. It mentions women on teaching staff and presence of lay and consecrated “in the seminarians’ journey”, but as yet the universal Church is not yet reflecting on what non-ordained  men and women bring to the formation of those who will hold such power in their hands. A pity, and I honestly believe it is mainly unaware oversight. but a bit shocking, nonetheless.

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However, back to these 3 men.

They have been part of my life for the last 5 ½ years, since I arrived in Australia mid-year 2013 to work and teach at ACU. It was a rushed landing. They needed me here toute-de-suite, apparently; so barely a month before classes started I was in Brisbane, trying to find my feet, my way around, understand a new culture, and submit unit outlines. The first class I taught was “What Christians Believe” to a group of 5 students, first year seminarians from Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary. I remember saying that as I prayed that first class in: “you are my first cohort here. That always leaves a mark”. We have walked together in different ways over the last few years, conversations about prayer, life, friendship, ministry, theology, women, sexual abuse, celibacy… with passion, laughter, tears and the odd argument, or two :); over teas, wines and meals, in classrooms, boardrooms, walks and Eucharistic settings.

And on Friday, two of them walked more fully into the world of ministry. A point of arrival. And departure.

With all the dark spaces and challenges our societies and Church faces right now, it feels strange and wonderful to feel such deep joy about this moment.

I think it is about shared life, and belonging: They have become part of my life. I feel I have become part of theirs. “They were yours; you gave them to me” (Jn 17:6)? ? at least for a little while :). Or you gave us to each other.

We journey on….