“I HAVE learned that I have a deep fondness for the road,” Dominican Brother Reginald Chua said towards the end of a road trip from his Melbourne priory around the western half of Australia.
“There was something almost ethereal about driving along the Nullarbor, in the moments when my brothers were sleeping and there was nothing but silence, the endless flat road, and the emus running alongside.”
Br Chua and fellow Dominican Brothers Christian Elters and Sebastian Condon piled into a van and hit the road to Perth to deliver materials for the recent Australian Catholic Youth Festival.
In for a penny, in for a pound – the brothers decided to head from Perth up the western coast through Broome to Katherine and down through Alice Springs before trekking home again.
Br Condon said the road trip was a fun event they could use as a promotion for vocations –posting their adventures on Facebook.
Some of the popular posts on their Facebook page included their visit to New Norcia Benedictine Monastery in Western Australia and their stop at St Canute’s parish in Streaky Bay.
Their stop in Streaky Bay had a photo of the brothers chanting their psalms among the pelicans with Psalm 102:6 in the caption, “Like some pelican in the wilderness”.
It was also a way to say farewell to a fellow brother.
“… Br Reginald is due to make solemn profession on the fourth Sunday of Advent – which this year is also the 803rd anniversary of the papal approval of the Order of Preachers – and we wanted to do something together before he concludes his time in the studentate and departs to take up his post as chaplain at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney,” Br Condon said.
“In fact, we wanted a longer trip – into Queensland – but had to amend our original plans in order to be back in time for the solemn profession on December 22.
“The nature of religious life means that we are together in formation for only a short time before being dispersed to the four corners of the earth – the memories shared of the studentate form the basis of our shared common life.”
Br Condon said sleeping under the stars just outside Eucla was a “definite highlight”.
“Br Reginald had the best position, because he was staying in a bivy tent and had a direct view of the shooting stars all night,” Br Condon said.
“Br Christian was less enthused about encountering a scorpion when he woke in his tent the next morning, but he survived the encounter, so it was worth it.”
The time passed quickly, Br Condon said, listening to the occasional podcast or reading an e-book, but mostly enjoying interesting conversations and “great opportunities to learn more about each other”.
“I have been surprised at how much I’ve continued to learn from and grow in appreciation for my brothers,” Br Chua said.
The kindness of those around them had stood out too, Br Condon said.
“We are staying in various presbyteries along the way – we were pleasantly surprised at how ready most priests were to offer us accommodation, and have been overwhelmed with the kindness shown us so far,” he said.