Church for the poor richer in new recruit
|Adam Carlow joined Holy Spirit Seminary in 2013. Photo: Elizabeth Scully.|
By Elizabeth Scully
Adam Carlow is a second-year student at Holy Spirit Seminary, Harris Park. The likeable 25-year-old has a strong commitment to serving disadvantaged people across the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.
Adam is a former student of Patrician Brothers’ College, Fairfield, who grew up in Wetherill Park. He celebrated his 18th birthday at World Youth Day Sydney in 2008. It was the very same day as the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse.
However, it would be some time before Adam fully recognised the call to the priesthood. “I was looking for fulfilment. I just felt like there was something empty in my life, something missing in my life,” Adam said.
“I was looking for ways to develop my faith. So I thought well what’s the best way of doing that? I came up with the idea of doing some charity work. I thought, there you go, it’s a Catholic thing to do.”
Doing the “Catholic thing” led Adam to volunteer with the St Vincent de Paul Society, including Vinnies Van Parramatta.
He also served the homeless in the Sydney CBD by getting involved with the Capuchin Franciscans, the order founded by St Francis of Assisi.
In 2012, Adam had the opportunity to travel overseas for the first time with the Franciscans to East Timor. “It was a powerful experience,” he said. “It was also a shocking experience.
“I didn’t realise what was on Australia’s border: the amount of poverty that was there. And it was only a two-hour flight from home.”
Adam left East Timor with a new certainty as to his vocation. “My faith was on fire,” he said.
Adam joined the Franciscans and lived in Brisbane for a year. During this time, he volunteered with the Morningside L’Arche community.
“L’Arche is a family, when you go to L’Arche it’s not an organisation, it’s like stepping into a family home,” Adam said. (Read more about L’Arche on Page 11 of this issue).
Family means a lot to Adam. In fact, the need to be closer to his family brought him back to Sydney. However, his decision to join the seminary in Parramatta in 2013 was motivated by a desire to work in one of the poorer areas of Sydney.
Poor is not always a word we are comfortable hearing about our communities, despite the sometimes stark reality of local disadvantage.
Yet it is a word we have often heard from the Holy Father, who chose his papal name to honour St Francis of Assisi, and commented soon after his election to the papacy: “How I would love a church that is poor and for the poor.”At the close of our conversation, I’m genuinely curious to know what Adam would be doing if he hadn’t joined the seminary. As I learn that he originally studied social work, I can’t help thinking that the parishes Adam works in will be very lucky to have him. Well, not lucky, blessed.
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