Joys and challenges of seminary life
|Seminarian Jack Green.|
Catholic Outlook, August 2015
When Jack Green entered Holy Spirit Seminary, having his own room was a luxury. It was the first time the 19-year-old had lived for an extended period away from home, where he was one of five children.
Three years later, he is immersed in the routine and community life of being a seminarian for the Diocese of Parramatta. At present, there are 11 seminarians in various stages of formation for the priesthood.
“Formation prepares your mind and your will for life as a priest,” Jack said.
“You are exposed to pastoral activities including parish placements, working in ministries such as CatholicCare Social Services and the Ephpheta Centre for the Deaf, and teaching Scripture in state schools.
“These allow you to participate in the kind of things you will be doing as a priest.
“We also have in-house formation with the Rector, Fr John Hogan, and guest speakers. These help to inform us of current policies affecting the priesthood, the workings of the Diocese, and the need for human formation.”
The seminarians undertake tertiary study at The University of Notre Dame and the Catholic Institute of Sydney.
“I am currently finishing my philosophy degree and have begun my theology degree,” Jack said. “Involvement in campus life is somewhat limited due to other pastoral commitments, but we have friends at the two campuses and meet up with them when we can.”
Jack is a keen football player and enjoys the friendly rivalry of inter-seminary competitions. “Every couple of years, all the seminaries from the east coast of Australia come together to play football, pray, eat, laugh, and get to know one another,” he said.
“Outside the seminary I play indoor football with some boys from Doonside parish and outdoor football with Rydalmere FC.”
On Saturdays Jack goes home to Glenbrook to see his family and friends.
He said he is inspired by Fr John O’Neill, Parish Priest of St John Vianney’s Parish at Doonside. “Fr John taught me that without Christ we are nothing. If we do not have a personal relationship with Our Lord, then life is empty and we are ineffectual.
“As a seminarian, the greatest joy has been getting to know Jesus Christ more and more, and love Him more surely. Without this relationship with Christ my vocation to the priesthood makes no sense.”
Jack said one of the biggest challenges was to be unafraid and unapologetic. “It’s not easy being Catholic these days and it’s not easy to introduce yourself as someone wanting to live a life of celibate priesthood.
“Often people are confused, will want to avoid you, or try to convince you that what you’re doing is nonsense. The challenge for me is to be unafraid in the face of this and to not compromise or make excuses simply to avoid ridicule.
“It’s interesting, but I have found that people have more respect for someone who is firmly convinced of their beliefs and tries to live by them rather than by someone who folds under the pressure of opinion.”
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