WHILE thousands of young people flock to Sydney on the official “travel day” for World Youth Day, July 14, Brisbane’s Paul Catchlove will be heading in another direction.
Sponsored by Brisbane archdiocese to undertake a doctorate in liturgical studies, the 29-year-old who has been active in youth ministry will be the first Australian “lay student” to study and live at Sant’Anselmo, a centre of the Benedictine Confederation in Rome.
Saying he’s “excited” by the opportunity, Paul’s long-term goals soon came into view.
“In liturgy, the Body of Christ come together,” he said.
“For me it will be exciting to guide and form people as they seek to prepare for and enter into liturgy.”
Brisbane’s Liturgical Commission director Fr Tom Elich has been “an immeasurable support” in the lead-up to the three-year trip, Paul describing him as “a mentor”.
“Fr Tom has shown me how exciting liturgy really can be … so that people can be as fully engaged as possible,” he said.
With the New Roman Missal progressing towards publication, Paul said it was also “an exciting time in liturgy”.
His lifestyle in Rome will centre on prayer and study while staying in the “men’s only” abbey, where Mass and formal prayers of the Church are offered daily.
Having previously studied theology and music, the accomplished tenor – who has performed in many operas – is also looking forward to the possibility of stretching his vocal cords while overseas.
For the past two years Paul has worked with Brisbane archdiocese’s Youth and Children’s Ministry team.
He also was employed as a youth co-ordinator for Sunnybank parish at two separate intervals within the past eight years.
Inspired by former Sunnybank parish priest the late Fr Tom Hegerty as a young person, Paul entered the seminary for a time.
“A great deal of who I am and what I believe can be attributed to Fr Tom (Hegerty),” Paul said.
“He had a deep faith and was a creative visionary.
“(As youth co-ordinator in Sunnybank) he would make me buy a (religious) book out of my pay each week and I’d have the week to review it.”
Such knowledge proved beneficial throughout Paul’s recent preparation of an 18,000-word thesis titled “The role of the institution narrative in Catholic Eucharistic prayers”, which he dedicated to his parents Wayne and Lyn.
Paul said it was his parents who “first instilled the importance of the faith”.
“I will never be able to repay you for the gift you have given me,” he wrote to them in the acknowledgements of the thesis.
While in Rome, the talented young man of faith is looking forward to the company of long-term acquaintances Monsignor Anthony Randazzo and Fr Anthony Mellor.
Fortunately for Paul, his love of “all things Italian”, including the language, culture, art, people, music and food, will ensure he feels “at home”.
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