We work in parishes
In recent decades, the Divine Word Missionaries have recognised that growing migrant populations, a decline in the numbers of diocesan priests and growing numbers of poor and marginalized people in urban areas has created a need for missionaries in parish life in our Province.
We have responded to this need by accepting invitations from Bishops around Australia, New Zealand and Thailand to take on parishes in their dioceses which face these challenges.
Typically our parishes are large and multicultural. In keeping with our Characteristic Dimensions, in addition to celebrating the Eucharist and other sacraments, we focus on preaching and promoting the Bible at Mass and through Bible study groups. Our parishes, led by parish pastoral councils, also have vibrant youth groups, social justice initiatives, interreligious dialogue with other faith groups in our communities, and great music. We are committed to bringing the love of Jesus to our parishioners, both spiritually and practically.
We support children and adults with AIDS
One of the primary works of our missionaries in Thailand is to care for people living with AIDs.
AIDS is on the rise in Thailand and poverty in the rural areas can be crushing. The Mother of Perpetual Help Center in Nong Bua Lamphu is run by SVD missionaries of the Australian Province. They also visit the sick in their homes and sponsor group meetings for people with AIDS. Education and awareness programs are another big priority.
Working with Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity, the SVD missionaries have also established the Ban Mare Marie children’s home for children who have been orphaned by AIDS, bringing love, security and hope into their lives.
We work with Indigenous peoples
Being with and working with indigenous Australians is a priority for the Australian Province of the Divine Word Missionaries.
Aboriginal Australians, especially those living in remote areas, are among the most marginalized and disenfranchised groups in our society, and living in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized is an important part of our missionary calling.
Apart from our work with indigenous people in urban Australia, the SVD has committed itself to being with and working the indigenous people of Central Australia, primarily through the Our Lady of Sacred Heart Parish Alice Springs and the Santa Teresa Parish, about 90km outside Alice Springs.Our missionaries provide spiritual, moral and material support to those who live in Alice Springs, town camps and remote communities. We also run a weekly prayer service in Alice Springs prison and visit the families of those who are in prison.
An important part of our work is also to raise awareness of the plight of indigenous people and to advocate for justice on their behalf.
We go where we are needed as missionaries
We are part of an international community of SVD missionaries and members of the Australian Province regularly answer the call to work as missionaries in areas of need around the world.
Currently, there are a number of SVD AUS Province members and members who completed their training and formation in Australia, who are working overseas as missionaries. They are working with communities in need in Papua New Guinea, Japan, Indonesia, the USA, China, Brazil, South Korea, Argentina, Cuba, Hong Kong, Madagascar, South Africa, Romania/Moldova, and Russia.
Although their missionary circumstances and experiences will all be very different, the thing they have in common is that in accordance with the SVD Constitutions, they are assisting the local Church in bringing the love of Jesus – both practically and spiritually - to people who are poor and marginalized.
We help overseas-trained priests to settle into Australian ministry
A number of dioceses within the Australian Province have invited priests from overseas to assist them in caring for the pastoral needs of the people as local vocations to the priesthood fall.
The special multicultural charism of the Divine Word Missionaries has enabled us to offer the local Church our expertise and support in the ongoing formation of religious and diocesan clergy who arrive in Australia to embark on multicultural ministry and community life.
We work with dioceses and religious orders to provide workshops and ongoing formation to help newly arrived clergy settle in and engage in fruitful ministry.
We provide formation for SVD missionaries
The SVD Australian Province is recognised as being a leader in the formation and training of missionaries.
SVD members and novices come to Australia from all over the world to complete their training, which involves both an academic program and spiritual formation. Situated at Dorish Maru College, Box Hill, the students undertake philosophy and theology studies at the Yarra Theological Union, and are immersed in religious community life and pastoral work.
Many missionaries serving in various parts of the world today retain a strong affection for and association with Australia thanks to their years of formation here.
We support migrant communities
Working with migrant communities is a key focus of the SVD Australian Province. Many of our parishes contain large migrant populations and often many cultures are located within the one parish.
The SVD itself is a multicultural society and it is a central part of our charism to be with those who may be feeling marginalized or without a voice in their new country. The Divine Word Missionaries offer spiritual and moral support to migrant families including those who came as refugees, with the parish often becoming the centre where they can find support.
We offer Masses in various languages for different cultural groups, which brings comfort and joy to people struggling with a new language. And we help people to link up with English lessons, employment and other community services to assist them in forging their new life, as well as providing a supportive social outlet.
We provide accommodation and care for Asylum Seekers
In Melbourne and Sydney, the Divine Word Missionaries have begun a new ministry of hospitality for asylum seekers.
We offer accommodation for young men who are living in community detention while their asylum claims are processed.
The SVD communities offer pastoral care and support for these young men who have often spent long periods in immigration detention. Together the Jesuit Refugee Service and CatholicCare, they are also assisted with learning English and gaining skills to prepare them for life in Australia.
We care for our senior members
Caring for our aged confreres with love and respect, in the spirit of Jesus Christ, is a priority of the community.
Some retired missionaries have returned from the mission fields ageing and frail, requiring physical and health care in hostel style accommodation. Younger members are assigned to their care and those in formation often spend time with their older confreres. Other retired missionaries are able to remain quite active in their ‘retirement’ years.
Very few missionaries want to retire and most seek to continue helping the Province in whatever way they might be able to, as well as continuing to live their religious life with prayer and reflection. Retirement is a time for them to receive special care and support.
We engage in Missiological academic work
What does it mean to be a missionary in the 21st Century? Is mission only for clergy and religious or is it something for every baptised person?
The Divine Word Missionaries have members who are not only experienced missionaries but who have studied and lectured extensively in the fields of Missiology and Anthropology.
We share this knowledge and love of Mission with students of Theology and the humanities at academic institutions such as the Yarra Theological Union, as well as through occasional lectures around the Province and beyond. A number of our SVD members have also written books.
We work as hospital chaplains
People who are sick in hospital are often experiencing great anxiety and fear and it is easy to feel forgotten as the busy world rushes on outside.
A number of Divine Word Missionaries work as chaplains in hospitals, being with people during their illness and offering them the healing presence of Jesus Christ.
Apart from spending time with patients, and praying with them, our priests also offer the strengthening and healing sacraments of the Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick to those Catholic patients who wish to receive them.