AS the bell tolled three times, priests, deacons and seminarians, young and old, gathered outside the Holy Spirit Chapel entrance at Australian Catholic University, Banyo, for a 75th birthday celebration.
Clothed in white, they made their way down the aisle and filled the pews as incense from the thurible filled the air on November 3.
With the sounds of the organ resounding through the archways, the priests began to sing “Alleluia” in harmony.
In silence, their heads bowed, they gathered to give thanks for the 75 years of Pius XII and Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary.
Fourth-year seminarian Emene Kelemete was among the young men gathered at the Mass.
Mr Kelemete, a former carpenter who entered the seminary in 2012, said the men preparing for the priesthood were learning from each other and from their more experienced counterparts.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge in his homily reminded them of God’s greater story found in the Word of God.
The world may see the failure of the Church but “God tells the full story that the Roman Catholic Church can’t tell”.
Archbishop Coleridge said St Paul told us “we are God’s work of art and that work of art is not yet finished”. He said this process was “not just decorative, but real art gets to the heart of it – what God is up to in the Church and in the world”.
As the Church has grown smaller, the work of art has grown smaller and a faith that has grown smaller like that of a mustard seed became more powerful, he said.
“The gift of the priesthood – will always remain a gift from the artist God to the world,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
Archbishop Coleridge decries ‘clericalism’ in anniversary Mass homily
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge delivered a powerful homily decrying “clericalism” during the 75th anniversary Mass for the formation of the Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary Queensland, Banyo.
“The question of how to form men for the ordained ministry is a question that has been high on the Church’s agenda since the Second Vatican Council,” Archbishop Coleridge said, referring to a form of ecclesiastical culture that sees clergy as more worthy than anyone else.
He said the question was also on the mind of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
“At the moment we are in the throes of preparing for the final hearing of the Catholic Church which will be in February next year,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“And one of the most pressing concerns of the Royal Commission now clear is the shape of the ordained ministry – the priesthood of the Catholic Church – and in particular questions that concern forming men for the priesthood.
“Clearly part of the narrative that has emerged within the Royal Commission is that there have been spectacular failings in that process of formation and it’s that which led to the abuse which is the concern of the Royal Commission.
“It’s the story of what the Royal Commission and others call ‘clericalism’ which lies at the heart of the failure, and we are going to take a pounding on that score in the final hearing, and I suspect in the final report of the commission that will be with us next year, and the implications of which will be with us for many years to come.
“It is not just the Royal Commission which is focused upon the scourge of ‘clericalism’ and all that it spawns, Pope Francis has himself spoken of the disease of ‘clericalism’, and inevitably part of the story of the 75 years is a story of that disease.”
However, Archbishop Coleridge stressed this was not the only story to be told of 75 years of the seminary at Banyo.
“Not to deny the failings, not to think that clericalism is a thing of the past, or isn’t a disease, but there is a much greater story to tell,” he said. “And it’s that story which we celebrate today … through the Word of God. In other words the God who tells the full story that no Royal Commission could tell.”
Archbishop Coleridge described the Holy Spirit Seminary as a “beautiful work of art”. The artist is God beginning the work 75 years ago that is not finished.
“Great art gets to the heart of things and lays it bear and reveals it – men who put into practice the mystery they celebrate,” he said. “This seminary, as God’s work of art, is all about overturning the seemingly non-negotiable status quos of this world.
“The priesthood, whatever its diseases, however wounded it might be from time to time, will always remain a superlative gift of the artist God not just to the Church, but to the world.
“The gift of the priesthood by which I’m talking about the death and resurrection of Christ here and now taking root in the lives of individual men with all their faults and failures and flaws – so that men ordained from this seminary to serve in the Church and in the world … may live the mystery of the Lord’s cross, the only cross that doesn’t destroy but creates.”
By Karaline Abricossow and Mark Bowling