• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Thursday, 27 February 2020 18:37

Students broaden horizons with summer pastoral placements


Edward with men summer pastoral ministry 2020 450SVD missionary students spread out from Dorish Maru College in Melbourne over the summer months to take up pastoral placements in different Divine Word Missionary communities around Australia.

Some enjoyed the experience of suburban parish life, while others immersed themselves in Indigenous culture in Central Australia, or joined in ministry at the Janssen Spirituality Centre in Victoria.

Formation Director, Fr Linh Nguyen SVD, said the pastoral placements are an important part of the students’ formation, as they take them out of the academic setting and allow them to participate first-hand in SVD ministry.

“It provides an opportunity for our students to grow and develop as missionaries in the Australian context,” Fr Linh said. “Being with the people is the essence of missionary life, so this is an important aspect of their education and formation.”

Edward Teye, from Ghana, spent his pastoral placement in Central Australia, first in Alice Springs and then in Santa Teresa.

He arrived in Alice Springs just in time to join in some of the parish Christmas gatherings, where he shared his musical gifts in singing Christmas carols and accompanied Fr Olivier to celebrate the Eucharist in some Aboriginal camps including Heartsrange and Burt Creek.

Edward with cross summer pastoral ministry 2020 450Edward then moved on to Santa Teresa, a small Catholic Indigenous community about 90km from Alice Springs, where he was soon made to feel welcome, working with the Aboriginal women in the Spirituality Centre, where they make world-famous painted crosses, scarves and other items.

“The Aboriginal hospitality of this community was so amazing,” he said.

“My pastoral ministry with the women in the Spirituality Centre was a most inspirational one,” he said.

“The deep learning for me was from the paintings at the Spirituality Centre, which displayed the deepest aspects of Aboriginal culture. I was taught the meanings of sacred images they painted and these show the strong connection of the people with country and the land.”

Edward also spent time at the Men’s Shed, where the men of the community create various artworks from wood or metal and then sell them to people in the community.

“For me, the atmosphere of the Men’s Shed was such a lovely community. I learned how the men work together supporting each other as they work on their own designs. I learned how to make some wooden crosses which will later be painted by the women at the spirituality centre.”

Neftali summer ministry placement 2020 450Meanwhile, back in Sydney’s southern-most suburbs, Neftali Velasco Fabian from Mexico undertook his pastoral experience at the large, multicultural Macquarie Fields Parish, where he said he “had a great time and learned new skills for mission”.

“My first goal was related to improving my English skills,” he said. “My activities in the parish definitely helped me to practice my English, through conversations with different people from different backgrounds.

“The second objective was about sharing my musical skills. Joining the choirs of the parish was a great opportunity, not only to practice, but to learn about them and get to know each other a bit more.

“Thirdly, I had the intention of learning more about Aussie culture. However, only when I went there, I realised the great diversity of cultures existing in Australia. Meeting different people opened my mind to a new understanding of Australian culture. It was a wonderful experience. Very different from our formation house.

“Also, I learned a bit more about the work that our congregation is doing in the parish. I can see that the work depends on the needs of the people.

“Through this time, I have learned a lot from the parishioners and our SVD community. All of this will help me in my formation.”

Neftali summer ministry placement3 2020 450Ruben Aguirre, also from Mexico, spent his summer in the Queensland SVD parishes of Marsden and Inala and says that both communities were welcoming and supportive.

In Marsden, apart from supporting the priests at Mass and on parish duties, he also accompanied them on visits to the sick, including to the large Logan Hospital which is nearby.

He also visited the sick in Inala and got to know the large multicultural community, including taking part in events at the Vietnamese Centre located at the parish.

“My experience there was very positive in the sense that I met a lot of people and shared experiences together,” he says.

Highlights included the celebration of the feast day of the Vietnamese Martyrs, at which the bishop presided, and also the experience of Christmas and New Year celebrations with the community.

“I really enjoyed my time there,” he says.

Back in Central Australia, Hai Nguyen experienced “three wonderful months” in Alice Springs, “the land of wind, rock, dust, sun and bushes”.

Hai summer pastoral ministry4 2020 450Hai’s duties were varied and included picking up Aboriginal people from their homes and driving them to Mass and dropping them home again.

He said it took some time for the people to get to know him, but soon they were all getting on well.

“When they knew I was a seminarian, they called me ‘KaKa’, which means ‘brother’. If I did not know their name, I would call them ‘Yaya’, which means ‘sister’.

“Music is a helpful tool to bring us into a good relationship,” he said. “Luckily, I used piano and guitar as a bridge to connect us together.

“We founded a small choir for Saturday and Sunday morning Mass. Members of the choir were Aboriginal girls, supported by a nun named Irene. I felt so blessed, happy and re-energised, even though it was only a small work.”

Other pastoral work included visits to nursing homes, volunteering with the Sisters of Charity on a soup van, and at Purple House, a kidney dialysis centre. He also joined his SVD confreres on trips to outlying Aboriginal settlements.

 “At these villages we come to celebrate Mass, bring the Good News to them. Being present with, and listening to and talking with the people is significant,” he said.

Hai summer pastoral ministry 2020 450“The SVD missionaries’ presence is to help realise the face of God through our mission. As missionaries we are called not only be preachers of the Gospel, but also should be true listeners, carers, companions of Aboriginal people.”

And, back in Victoria, Cuong Dang undertook his pastoral ministry placement at the SVD’s Janssen Spirituality Centre, where he said his vocation was “enriched by many experiences in different activities”.

“Firstly, my reflection on JSC is that this is a welcoming place for those who want to seek God, learn more about God and improve their relationships with God through various services,” he said.

“The centre not only welcomes Christians, but also receives gladly people from different religious. This is something that touched me, that our Province is responding to the Church in terms of relating with people of other religious faith.”

Cuong took part in weekly Bible sharing and learnt how to engage in Centering Prayer, something he had not been previously familiar with. He took Holy Communion to the sick and shared his time and a listening ear with the elderly and lonely.

“One elder woman told me, ‘the world needs someone like you to be with us’. From this ministry, I learnt for myself about the importance of our presence with people,” he says.

“Doing summer pastoral ministry in JSC was a beautiful experience for me to get more motivation for my vocation journey in becoming a missionary.”


TOP: Edward Teye SVD pictured in Santa Teresa where he took part in the Men's Shed activities where the men showed him how to make the wooden crosses to be painted by the local women at the Spirituality Centre.

MIDDLE: Neftali Velasco Fabian SVD is pictured with families and youth during his summer pastoral placement at Macquarie Fields Parish.

BOTTOM: Hai Nguyen SVD says he was blessed in getting to know the people of Alice Springs during his summer pastoral placement.