DINING at Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s house has opened new possibilities about joining the priesthood for young discerner Gerard Lai.
Mr Lai, 21, was one of 40 young Brisbane archdiocesan Catholics who dined with the Archbishop for the 18th annual Archbishop’s Vocations Dinner on April 23.
From tradesmen to university students, the dinner guests had been “personally invited” to learn more about entering the priesthood at the Archbishop’s home, Wynberg, in New Farm.
Mr Lai, a Queensland University of Technology science student, lives at Canali House, a discernment house for young men thinking about becoming a priest.
But sitting next to Archbishop Coleridge added an extra dimension to discernment for Mr Lai.
“What I liked was seeing others there, knowing that I was not the only one thinking of becoming a priest,” he said.
“It’s just good to see a lot of faces, men you can talk to on a different level about your faith.
“It made the priesthood look doable, and not boring.”
Mr Lai entered Canali House after serving on NET (National Evangelisation Teams) Ministries Australia for two years.
“I never really thought about becoming a priest before that,” he said.
“But after NET, I learnt lots about my faith, and I thought the priesthood was definitely a possibility.
“I wasn’t just thinking I was automatically called to marriage, but thinking of the priesthood too.”
Mr Lai and the other men invited to the Archbishop’s Vocations Dinner are thinking seriously about whether the priesthood is their life-long call.
The guest list included men who were recommended by parishes or Vocation Brisbane director Fr Morgan Batt, but all were “personally selected” to dine at Wynberg.
“It’s not often a young guy gets a personal invitation from the Archbishop to come to his home and share his discernment journey with him,” Fr Batt said.
Vocation Brisbane officer Adam Burns said young men “don’t just materialise into the seminary” but were recommended by parishes and schools.
Mr Burns said faith communities played a vital role in building up vocations.
“It’s the community saying they believe in a young man, that he would make a great priest,” he said.
Archbishop Coleridge spoke about his own discernment, and said he had “never been disappointed” in his call to the priesthood.
Holy Spirit ProvincialSeminary rector Monsignor Tony Randazzo gave insights about seminary life, Fr Batt talked about the process of entering the seminary, and seminarian Will Iuliano shared his own discernment journey.
Fr Batt said the annual dinner helped in “building a vocations culture in the archdiocese” and it offered the added bonus of receiving advice from the Archbishop, priests and seminarians.