Seminarians' silent retreat golden opportunity to build friendships in the West



Holy Spirit Seminary's seminarians and students from St Charles Seminary in the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth
Getting together: New Norcia’s Abbot John Herbert OSB led the joint retreat for Holy Spirit Seminary's seminarians and students from St Charles Seminary in the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth. Photo: courtesy CJ Millen

By Bridget Spinks

Nine seminarians from the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta's Holy Spirit Seminary joined seminarians from St Charles Seminary in Guildford, Western Australia, for an annual silent retreat in July.

Holy Spirit Seminary’s Rector, Fr John Hogan, thought it would be a good experience for the seminarians to build a fraternal spirit while preparing for the priesthood, Monsignor Kevin Long, Rector of St Charles Seminary, has told Western Australia's The Record.

Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey and Mgr Kevin Long were supportive and agreed to the suggestion.

Conducted by Benedictine Abbot John of New Norcia, the silent retreat consisted of community Mass, Morning and Evening Prayer, a Holy Hour and shared meal.

Abbot John led a daily morning conference which was followed by silent reflection and the opportunity to have one-to-one chats with the Abbot.

The talks covered many topics including discernment and how to listen with the ear of the heart; humility and obedience; peace within hearts and people; prophetic witness and the inexpressible delight of prayer.

Holy Spirit Seminary seminarian Anthony Saliba said that he felt welcome at St Charles and that the “whole experience was fantastic”.

“Abbot John is a humble and wise man whose words gave us insight and food for reflection,” Anthony said.

Mgr Long said his seminarians had been enriched by the presence and friendship of the Parramatta seminarians.

“The interaction and fellowship between the two seminaries was a great gift for both communities,” Mgr Long said, adding that further meetings are planned.

(This article first appeared in The Record, 11 August 2010).

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