Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Faith Matters

    Article by Mr Brendan Nichols


    There are so many events and great celebrations within the College that it is difficult to decide at times what to offer as a focus for our newsletter. This time however the decision has been very easy! Last week Fr James Puppady celebrated his Silver Jubilee – 25 years as a priest. A number of staff and students were present to celebrate his Jubilee Mass on the 21st of April. This event was a wonderful occasion in every aspect. The mass was attended by a large number of priests, including our Auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards

    The mass and in fact the entire year has been an ongoing celebration of the commitment and work of Fr James, since is ordination in April 1993. Over the last twenty-five years Fr James has served communities in India and Australia. Since arriving in Australia he has shown great devotion to the communities of Saint Ignatius College, St Thomas Primary School and the Parish of St Thomas Drysdale. Of course he has offered his guidance spiritually. But has also helped develop the vision of our college and the community in many ways, both within the Geelong Deanery and the Archdiocese of Melbourne. As the President of the Canonical Administrators he also is a member of our College Board and thus further influences the direction of our community. Such dedication and energy is extemporary and a lesson of commitment to all who observe his efforts.    

    At the College we have been and are today supported by a number of other priests. Fr John McCarthy celebrated a milestone birthday over the weekend and has served in the parish of St Thomas for over forty years! Prior to Fr James, Fr Des Panton served the community including Saint Ignatius College, for over thirty years until his retirement. In fact, the reason St Thomas church was built on Peninsula drive was because of his vision for the schools, especially so that the children had a sacred space that was ‘theirs’. Fr Gerry Healy SJ has been a great supporter of our College over the last ten years. Although extremely busy at Newman College, lecturing at Melbourne University and in his work as a VCAA panel member and chair, he regularly offers mass for our students, and also guides the school as a member of the College Board. 

    Our chaplain’s Fr James Puppady, Fr Michael Richardson and Fr Jim Clarke are all vital to the College and the faith life of our community. Fr Michael Richardson, Parish Priest of Queenscliff, has for many years supported the College and will retire mid-year after a life of service in the community. Fr Jim Clarke, Parish Priest of St Marys of the Angels, has supported us since his appointment last year by offering mass and as a member of the College Board. Of course we also remember the service of Fr Kevin Dillon who was a great supporter of the College in all areas over the last ten years, who transferred only last year to St Simons Rowville.

    In reflecting on the great support we have from these priests we also reflect upon all of the priests in the Geelong Deanery, who had the vision to support the College ten years ago and their continued enthusiasm as the College develops and serves the community. 

    When we consider the service of these people we do well to consider the reason they serve. For in that we find the best lesson that their example offers us. Each of these priests and of course all clergy enter into a life of service inspired by Jesus. In unique ways each priest offers us a connection with Christ, through the sacraments and the love they offer through their sacrifice. Vocation is a calling, not a career. Through ordination our priests make a commitment to sacrifice many of the things we desire so that they may serve us completely.

    Called by the Spirit they offer all that they have and all of the gifts they have been given to the service of the Church, the community and the world. In every way the world is made more whole through their faith and devotion.

    Saint Ignatius was also called by the Spirit. Although he had an exceptional moment that triggered this consideration he was known by the Lord and consecrated. The prophet Jeremiah heard the voice of God proclaiming, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." This is true of all called to priestly vocation. Not all people have such spectacular events that cause them to stop and consider their life’s journey. But all called to vocation are touched by the Spirit and called to enter into service predetermined by God. Following that calling is requires courage and faith.

    We all can be inspired by Fr James and the priests in our lives. But we need to consider our own calling and take our vocation seriously. As Vatican II teaches in the document Lumen Gentium we all have a vocation. God has a plan for every person. Our purpose is to reflect upon this, discern what our vocation is and live our lives in a manner worthy of our calling. For some it’s ordination, others parenthood, for others teaching. We are all parts of the one body and are all essential components of the Church. Together we bring the Kingdom to completion and the love of Jesus to a world. A world that is in such need of the love and forgiveness only possible through Him, because of us; his living Church.

    In celebrating Fr James’s twenty-five years of service since his ordination we offer gratitude for his friendship and love. We are grateful for his wisdom and care and are inspired by his dedication and service. We pray for him and thank him for his faith. Faith that gave him the courage to leave India and serve us. We also pray that although separated by distance he feels the love of his family, especially his mother, so palpably that the distance does not matter.

    We finish our reflection focusing on our own vocation. Your calling is part of the Kingdom. There is no better or worse vocation. Whatever your vocation is fulfill it as best you can. Inspired by others, strengthened by the Spirit and guided by your relationship to Jesus, remember that only you are able to provide what you can offer the world. We are all His children, we were all consecrated before we existed and have been appointed prophets of his Word.

    Walk gently, live in the love of God as you fulfil your life’s mission and vocation as a saint within the Church. 

    Yours in Christ,
    Mr Brendan Nicholls
    Liturgy Coordinator



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