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Laity and seminarians ready to explore the Word together at Xavier School of Mission

Formation: Participants at last year’s Xavier School of Mission at Holy Spirit Seminary, Banyo.

SEMINARIANS from across Queensland are getting ready to welcome people into their shared home for five days of formation during the third annual Xavier School of Mission.

The school runs as a joint venture by Xavier Centre for Theological Formation at Australian Catholic University and Holy Spirit Seminary, Banyo, and is hosted at the seminary from July 21 to 26.

Fifth-year seminarian Ashwin Acharya said he felt privileged to have people from all walks of life and all different skillsets come to study with the seminarians for the week.

Mr Acharya said in previous years it was also a privilege to have the opportunity to pray with the attendees, and it was something he was looking forward to again this year.

The theme for this year is The Word of Life More than Words, and the speakers for the week will be Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge; Ainsley Pavey and Michael Crutcher, from 55 Comms; Mark Lysaght; Jan Heath; Dr Maeve Heaney; and Shayne Bennett.

Mr Acharya said he was looking forward to hearing the speakers discuss the topic, saying he was looking forward to “focusing on the Word … not a static text from centuries ago but the Living Word who gives us life”.

“Every opportunity to become more familiar with the Word, who is Christ, is not to be passed up,” he said.

Fr Josh Whitehead said while the seminary was opening up to the school, it was not a seminary activity.

“This is a People of God activity,” Fr Whitehead said.

“I think this is an essential part of seminary formation and lay formation, that it happens concurrently at times.

“We benefit from each other, it’s not an us-and-them relationship, this is the People of God. 

“It’s us gathering together as baptised people of God, the sacrament that forms the foundation of our life as the People of God.”

Fr Whitehead said the speakers lined up were all world-class and the school was expecting numbers between 50 and 60. 

In years gone by as a seminarian, Fr Whitehead said his favourite part of the school was spending time with the participants who had come externally.

He also said cost shouldn’t be preventative for people either, as the organisers were working with people to find ways around that if that was an issue.

And, he said, the hospitality of the seminary was second to none, and the week let the participants get a taste of life at the seminary.

“It includes prayer and reflection, lectures, small-group experiences, daily Eucharist, and opportunities for one-to-one mentoring,” he said. “It does in a sense reflect life at the seminary.”

Mr Acharya said he spoke for all his fellow seminarians when he said they all enjoyed hosting the school.

“It gives us the chance to come together as brothers and give that hospitality, and just enjoy having people in our home,” he said.

“It’s like welcoming someone to your house, having them at the seminary.”

Brisbane Catholic Education and Rockhampton Catholic Education have both recognised Xavier School of Mission as a source of accreditation towards professional development for teachers of religious education in Catholic schools; further details are available on the seminary’s website.

In consultation with Dr Maeve Heaney, who is overseeing Xavier School of Mission on behalf of Australian Catholic University, delegates can earn accreditation toward different areas of tertiary study at ACU.

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