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Oratory community one step closer to permanency in Brisbane

Brisbane Oratory

Men in black: Brisbane’s growing Oratory community now stands at eight members with Br Conor Power, newly-joined novice Br John Henry Nguyen, Br Shawn Murphy, Fr Andrew Wise, Fr Adrian Sharp, Fr Scot Armstrong, Br Tyson King and Fr Matthew Buckley. The community is finalising its petition to the Holy See to be a canonically established congregation in Brisbane. Photo: Maria Rose Anna Photography

AUSTRALIA’S first Oratory community is finalising its petition to the Holy See to be a canonically established congregation in the Brisbane archdiocese.

The Brisbane Oratory in Formation Project, made up of members Fr Adrian Sharp, Fr Andrew Wise, Fr Scot Armstrong, and seminarians Br Shawn Murphy, Br Tyson King, Br Matthew Buckley, Br Conor Power and Br John Henry Nguyen, who joined as a novice in May, will sign a petition to become a formally established community.

The community hope to send their petition later this year and if approved by the Holy See, the Brisbane Oratory will be the first permanent congregation of its kind in Australia.

The Brisbane Oratory was required to spend at least two years in formation before it could petition to the Pope a request to found a congregation in Australia.

The community is now in its fourth year having officially formed on May 26, 2015, with support from Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

The Cincinnati Oratory in Ohio was the last congregation to be canonically established two years ago after being in formation for eight years.

Fr Sharp, who is moderator of the Brisbane Oratory, said the community hoped to be established “somewhere between three and eight years” in formation.

He said the Holy See required documentation proving the community had “the means to survive in terms of members, vocations and finances”.

The Brisbane Oratory does not receive financial assistance from the Archdiocese of Brisbane and instead survives off donations from its supporters.

A recent fundraising dinner, held on July 28, surpassed donations of $29,000.

The community requires a further $153,000 to cover the running costs for the next 12 months.

Most of the funds would cover the cost for the five seminarians’ studies in Toronto, Rome and Oxford but the community requires at least $50,000 to run the Oratory house in Annerley.

Last year the Oratory community received $178,000 in donations to cover the community’s running costs and fund the studies for its then four seminarians.

Fr Sharp said the community looked to remain in Annerley as its official base.

“Annerley seems to be shaping up to be our home, and that’s what people are expecting now,” he said.

With a new novice in their community, Fr Sharp said the congregation was “delighted” with the vocations that had come out of Australia.

He said it wasn’t unusual to be receiving vocations from across the country as Brisbane had the only Oratory in Australia so far.

“I think there will be other Oratories in Australia eventually, please God, but for the moment we’re it, so people who feel called to the Oratory and want to join now come to us,” Fr Sharp said.

The Brisbane Oratory serves the Mary Immaculate parish, Annerley, and offers Mass in both the ordinary (English) and extraordinary (Latin) forms.

It provides personal accompaniment and spiritual direction for Catholics as well as care for a young men and women’s group, a thriving youth group and a Secular Oratory “to try to help people living the faith”.

Fr Sharp said the community was “very grateful” for Archbishop Coleridge’s support.

Correction: The original story incorrectly reported that the Brisbane Oratory had signed the petition to become a canonically established congregation. The Catholic Leader has been informed that the petition will be signed and sent later this year. We apologise for this error.

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