Listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit
St Nicholas of Myra Penrith Parish Priest Very Rev Chris de Souza EV was recently interviewed by Alex Pace from Couples for Christ Australia (CFCA), following Fr Chris's appointment as the National Spiritual Advisor for CFCA.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Colombo Sri Lanka in 1958 and spent the first 10 years of my life there in a relatively privileged and happy childhood.
In March of 1969, my parents decided to bring us all to Australia to live and we settled in the western suburbs of Sydney, namely Fairfield. I went to school at Patrician brothers College Fairfield and completed my HSC in 1976.
I entered the seminary at St Columba’s College Springwood in 1977 and then transferred to St Patrick’s College Manly in 1978.
I was ordained a Deacon in December 1982 and a Priest on 20 August 1983.
Who were some of the faith models in your childhood and why?
My childhood faith models were my parents. They always had what I now call a practical Christianity - they just did not talk about God (actually they rarely did), but they would always help people in need wherever they found them.
They would pray with us when my sisters and I were children. Later when we were adults, we would often hear them praying together in bed before they went to sleep at night. Faith was not just a part of their lives, but it was who they were. God was as real to them as we, their children, were.
How old were you when you felt you had a calling to the priesthood?
Looking back on it now, I would say that I had a sense that priesthood was something I was seriously considering as early as my 15th year. However, I did not take the matter with the seriousness that it deserved until I was 20...yes I was already in the Seminary. I started questioning myself at 20 and made that act of faith to follow Christ as a Priest in that year.
What are some of your responsibilities in the Diocese of Parramatta?
The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, appointed me his Episcopal Vicar of Education and Formation as of 8 March 2011. I am also the Vice Rector of our Seminary (Holy Spirit Seminary at Saint Marys). I am a Trustee and member of the College of Consultors of the Diocese, a member of the Council of Priests and the Director of Deacons. I also sit on a number of Boards of Director for various ministries and organisations in the Diocese. I am also the Parish Priest of Penrith.
What do you enjoy most in the Catholic priesthood?
Helping people find out that God does truly love them for who they are. I feel I can best do this in the sacrament of reconciliation. I feel closest to the Lord in this sacrament.
How long have you been associated with Couples for Christ?
Not very long. I came to Penrith as Parish Priest in January 2003 and it was here that I first came into contact with CFCA. I was asked to do some presentations on different aspects of our faith for the local group at Penrith.
What is a spiritual advisor to a church movement?
As I see it, it is to be a sounding board for the leadership and to offer spiritual advice when it is needed. To do my best to help the group to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through and to its membership.
What do you think are some of the strengths of CFCA?
That it is family based and Christ centered. It tries to respond to the real challenge of being a Christian Catholic in the modern world.
What are some of the challenges you currently see facing CFCA?
The most obvious one is that it has to become open and welcoming of all nationalities. To become part of the parish.
What do you expect from us?
Understanding as I try to do my best in serving you, help when I make mistakes and forgiveness when I let you down. Also I have a terrible problem with remembering names.
Read Alex Pace's original article at the Couples for Christ Australia Site
Visit St Nicholas of Myra Penrith ParishVisit Holy Spirit Seminary
Fr Chris was also recently interviewed by the Western Weekender on the Silver Jubilee of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta and the proclamation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop as its Patron.
Read Fr Chris's interview in the Western Weekender (page 31)
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