- December 2008
The first two
weeks of June being the last two weeks of the long first term for
the Major Seminarians and second quarter for the Minor seminarians,
they were a busy time with tests for everybody. The week from June
9 - 13 there were in fact no classes for the Minor Seminarians,
dedicated as it was to the end of semester exams. Then on Friday
13th, the Rector took the Minor Seminarians to see a performance
of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, put on in original Elizabethan style
by the local Goulburn theatre company. Sunday 15th was the breakup
day for vacation, and most of the community took off for a couple
On Monday 16th
the Rector, helped by Father Curtis from the Rockdale priory, began
the five days of the exercises of St. Ignatius for 22 men from Victoria,
N.S.W., S.A. and Queensland. The meditation on death was helped
by the Wednesday funeral of one of the regular parishioners of the
Canberra chapel, Mr. Oswald Richards.
on Sunday June 22, Father Elias began the preaching of the annual
Third Order Carmelite retreat, to 15 retreatants, 12 men and 3
work advanced on the cemetery chapel. A team of bricklayers started
work on Monday June 16, finishing the brick work by June 30. This
included complicated brick work for the round apse, and some magnificent
buttresses that will support the roof and ensure that there is no
movement in the walls. The electrician was also able to install
his wiring for the lights.
The month of
June also saw the beginning of the construction of a grotto in honor
of Our Lady of Lourdes for the 150th anniversary of the first apparition.
It is Mr. Tony Pekolj who is building it, just outside the back
door near the kitchen. By the end of the month he had finished the
structure of stones collected on the Seminary property, attaining
a height of eight feet. Mr. Guy Finnie, the cook, has this project
especially at heart, and is repairing and painting the statue of
Our Lady of Lourdes for the grotto.
June 28 all the seminarians returned for the beginning of the second
term, well rested from their break, classes starting again on Monday
June 30, the 20th anniversary of the Episcopal consecrations. In
thanksgiving for this great grace for the Society, the Seminary
sang a Te Deum after First Vespers for the feast of the Precious
The month began
with Ascension Thursday, May 1st, a holy day of obligation. After
an early Solemn High Mass, the community took advantage of this
day for a long hike in the Morton State Park near Braidwood. Regular
studies occupied the rest of the month, with little interruption.
May 17, Father Niklaus Pfluger, 1st Assistant to the Superior General,
arrived for his first visit to Holy Cross Seminary. He celebrated
the Solemn High Mass the next day, and then gave a conference to
the faithful presenting the latest developments in the relationships
of the Society with Rome, and explaining the compromises of the
Redemptorists from Papa Stronsay. He was also able to meet the seminarians
and to give them a spiritual conference before leaving on Wednesday
Also on Saturday
May 17 arrived Mr. Marcus Pillay, from Bombay, India. He has come
to the Seminary to study for the priesthood, and is the third pre-Seminarian
for this school year, bringing up to 32 the number of students in
formation here at Holy Cross Seminary.
May 22nd, Corpus Christi, there were no classes, however, and a
procession of the Blessed Sacrament was held at the Seminary. The
following weekend two of our deacons drove to Singleton to help
Father Elias with the public procession that is held there every
months without rain, and very little pasture left, we decided to
butcher two of our cattle on Saturday May 24 - our bull, and a cow
that had not been able to have a calf. This now leaves a herd of
four bull calves, four heifer calves, and eight cows, all in calf.
group of Minor Seminarians about to set out on the hike.
view of the Shoalhaven river before the descent
of more than 500 metres into the valley floor.
Then on Wednesday
May 28, the Seminary took off for another hike, in preparation for
the end of the first term. This time it was to Bungonia State Park,
starting off on the white track, and descending 500 metres down
to the Shoalhaven River, then walking along the river and finally
climbing up the other side to the Long Point recreation area near
Marulan. It was quite tiring, especially for the many members of
the community who got lost, not being able to find the track back
up the mountain side, and having to make their way along the ridges
and over the peaks to finally find Long Point. The barbeque at the
end was very much appreciated by all, as well as Brother Peter’s
dedication in setting up the barbeque, preparing the food and cooking
the sausages. All returned back to the Seminary tired and stiff,
but happy and relaxed.
The work this
month consisted mainly in finishing uncompleted jobs, cleaning up
from all the excavation, cutting wood for the furnaces for the winter.
A little light
relief began the month in the form of April fool’s day pranks,
that the unsuspecting Brothers fell for, much to the amusement of
the rest of the community.
The work for
the Commonwealth Water Grant project advanced rapidly during the
first three weeks of the month. First of all the 150,000 litre concrete
tank was poured on the slope below the Seminary. Then came the excavation
work to join up the downspouts from all our roofs to the tank. Since
most of the pipes from the downspouts over the years had become
blocked up, nearly all had to be reconnected, involved the digging
of new pipes from the downspouts from the main building. The downspouts
from the St. Joseph House and school building were easily connected,
since it was only quite recently that they had been installed. However,
a long trench had to be dug all along the back of the school building.
As the number of connections increased, so also did the size of
the pipe, going up to 300 mm., which is one foot in diameter. These
huge pipes will convey large volumes of water into the storage tank.
A pit dug just above the storage tank allows for a large strainer
to purify the water before it goes into the tank.
At the same
time a smaller pipe (63 mm.) was installed with a pump, to pump
the water from the storage tank back to the laundry, where clearn
water will now be available for the washing of clothes by the community.
When it rains regularly, we will no longer have to wash our clothes
in brown creek water.
around the back of the Seminary, and seminarians in them helping
out install the pipes, reminded us that in this crisis in the Church,
we are in the trenches, midst of a battle to preserve the
At the same
time work took place on renewing the pipe leading from the creek
to the Seminary’s storage tanks on the top of the hill. The
previous line having rusted out in many places, and having sprung
many leaks, which now have temporary clamps over them, this seemed
to be the opportune moment to replace the entire line with a new
flexible pipe that would not rust. For a part of the path the same
trench was used as for the rainwater collection pipes, economizing
on digging. However, the big advantage was on account of the innumerable
underground obstacles, that made the digging of the trenches around
the Seminary as complicated as an archeological dig - between the
many different kinds of pipes in the area, and electrical and telephone
cables. In fact, pipes and telephone cables and even electrical
cables were broken during the project, and had to be repaired as
the work advanced.
was completed just as the month came to its end. The last part of
it was the construction of a seven foot deep pit, constructed for
an immense strainer, to strain out any leaves, dirt or other material
that may be caught up in the water gushing out the one foot diameter
pipe. Then, we had the OK from Brother Joseph to pray for rain.
By these two
projects, the Seminary’s supply of water, so necessary to
our existence here, is guaranteed for the years to come.
The 12 Minor
Seminarians returned, refreshed by their two week’s break
on Saturday April 5. However, a foreseen and very sad departure
took place the following Monday, April 7. The three Redemptorist
brothers who had been studying Theology, were recalled, sad and
confused, to their monastery on Papa Stronsay by their superior,
Father Michael Mary.
In virtue of
a rather astonishing about face, Father Michael Mary Sim has decided
that he knows better than Bishop Fellay and the Society of Saint
Pius X and that he wants to negotiate personally with Rome, and
obtain some kind of legal, canonical standing for his community,
making abstraction from our combat to defend the Faith and the Mass
in this time of crisis.
by the psychological arguments on the modernists, he seems to have
embraced the preposterous position that the Society of Saint Pius
X is not in full and perfect union with Rome, but rather some kind
of imperfect communion. This is entirely false, for ours is a full,
true and obedience submission to the Sovereign Pontiff in all the
he legitimately asks, whilst at the same time we refuse his post-conciliar
Mary consequently maintains that the Society’s destination,
as that of his own community is to work towards a “reunion”,
that is to align ourselves with what Rome is doing, for we have
been psychologically separated for too long. However, it is precisely
to protect ourselves from the doctrinal errors of the post-conciliar
church, and the grave spiritual danger of the New Mass, that we
have remained traditional. The separation is all the doing of the
modernists, nor can we ever align ourselves on what they are doing.
They must accept and recognize Tradition as being truly, integrally
Catholic, and the only way to preserve the Church. They must likewise
accept our right to contest the errors of Vatican II as true errors,
opposed to decisions of the Magisterium, and not just as “ambiguities”.
show that God is in charge, he sent us three young men this month
to take the place of the three brothers that left: two pre-seminarians
from the Philippines, and one minor seminarian. Consequently, there
remained 31 students here at Holy Cross as of the end of April.
The month finished off with the Rogation Processions, the Major
Rogations on the feast of St. Mary, Anzac Day, and the Minor Rogations
on April 28 - 30. There was a heavy frost for two of these processions,
that we do at 6:30 a.m., and a very cold wind for another, helping
us to be fervent in our praying of the Litany of the Saints as we
blessed the fields around the Seminary, waiting to return to the
shelter of the chapel.
The month began
with the First Saturday devotions in honor of Our Lady of Fatima,
the Minor Seminarians’ schola singing the Votive Mass of the
Immaculate Heart of Mary very proficiently. During the following
week the Major Seminarians began to return, all being back by Saturday
8th. We were happy to welcome two new members of the community,
who arrived on Saturday 8th. Mr. Rémi Picot from France has
spent four years at the Society’s International Seminary of
Saint Pius X in Econe. He is now entering into fifth year, after
having spent the last several months at St. Michael’s School
in England, improving his English skills. Mr. Sahaya Arul Anistas
Santha Gruz also arrived from India. He has spent the past seven
years at the hostel and priory of Palayamkottai, four years for
his high school, and three years of spiritual formation. He has
come to Holy Cross to do his Novitiate to become a religious brother,
a great encouragement to our three brothers and to our entire community.
Nély, the Second Assistant to the Superior General arrived
here also on Friday 7th. He came all the way from Switzerland to
preach the retreat that begins the year for the Major Seminarians.
The retreat began after Vespers on Sunday March 9th, and lasted
until lunch time on Saturday March 15th, focusing on the recollection
and silence necessary for the interior life. The following day,
Palm Sunday, after the solemn ceremonies that he celebrated, Father
Nély gave a presentation on the work of the Society of Saint
Pius X world wide, together with slides, that greatly interested
both our faithful and our community here.
Priests, Major Seminarians
and Brothers together with Father Nély.
herd of cattle suffered a loss on Monday March 10, when our last
remaining steer was killed and butchered, with the help of the Minor
Seminarians. He will keep us in meat for a month. We now have a
bull, nine cows and eight rapidly growing calves 6 - 9 months old.
the Major Seminarians only started on Holy Monday, March 17. Three
enthusiastic students make up the Spirituality class, Mr. Cameron
from New Zealand, Mr. Nanthambwe from Zimbabwe and Mr. Okamura from
Japan. Mr. Santha Gruz also assists at their classes in preparation
for the religious life. For the two years of Philosophy we have
this year six students, one in third year, Mr. Gill from England,
and five in second year, two from the Philippines and one each from
India, Kenya and New Zealand.
are this year in the three year Theology cycle, two just beginning,
Br. Magdala from Papa Stronsay and Mr. Hennessy from South Africa.
Four are in fifth year. Mr. Todd Stephens from Tynong, Mr. Picot
from France, and Brothers Yousef and Jean-Marie from Papa Stronsay.
In final year we have Mr. Jordie Stephens from Hampton, Mr. Noronha
from India and Mr. Campbell from Florida.
a total of 18 Major Seminarians and one brother Postulant: three
from India, and also three Redemptorists from Papa Stronsay, two
seminarians from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and one
each from the U.S., France, South Africa, Great Britain, Kenya,
Zimbabwe and Japan. It is what you could call an international Seminary,
given that every one of the continents is represented. The District
that recruits most effectively for the Seminary is the Asian District.
In addition, we are presently expecting the arrival of five new
vocations once they obtain their visas, four of whom are from the
This only left
three days of classes before the intense activities of the Holy
Triduum forced their suspension. The whole community worked together
to promote the beauty of the singing and celebration of the Tenebrae
and the offices of Holy Week. They were consequently very happy
to take a breather during the early morning reveillon celebration
with our faithful after the Easter Vigil and Mass.
After the Solemn
High Mass of Easter day the 12 Minor Seminarians, who have been
here since the beginning of February, took off for their first quarter
break. The Majors had just one day off, Easter Monday, March 24,
which was the day for a community hike through the Blue Mountains
in Bundanoon, followed by a pleasant barbeque prepared by Brother
Peter. Then the next day, March 25, classes resumed in earnest.
On Friday March
28, after nearly a year of planning and paperwork organized by Brother
Joseph, the work funded by the Commonwealth Water Grant actually
began. It is the construction of a 150,000 litre water storage tank
on the slope well down from the Seminary for the purposes of collecting
all the rainwater from the Seminary’s many roofs. The water
will then be channeled into the tank and pumped back up to the laundry
for the washing of clothes. Seminarians will be happy to have clean
water, rather than the usual creek water, for their washing. The
first step was the digging of the hole for the tank. After the operator
of the hydraulic shovel had finished his work, with a little time
to spare, he kindly offered to push down, with great ease, a couple
of dead, huge old pine trees on the property, to be used for our
heating wood supply for this winter.
huge 24 ton shovel begins to dig the hole
for the Seminary’s new water storage tank.
end result of the digging. A 12 meter square hole well
on a slope below the level of the Seminary,
into which the concrete tank will be poured.
The month finished
with the solemn celebration of the feast of the Annuntation, transferred
to March 31, on account of the Easter octave.
feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was a busy
one - rather like the changing of the guard. As the women retreatants
left to face the world, so also did our minor seminarians enter
to begin the year. This year we have 12 Minor Seminarians, including
three who are new, and nine who returned from last year. The year
began with a day of recollection on Monday 4th.
the team of painters started repainting the main chapel on Monday
4th. Mr. Tony Ward from the Tynong parish, who has his own painting
business, directed operations, assisted by Mr. Ted Rayner, from
the Hampton parish. The crew also included Mr. John McGrath, a volunteer
from amongst our parishioners at the Seminary, as well as Mr. Tony
Pekolj and Mr. Rob Behrtel, Brother Joseph and three seminarians,
Mr. John Cameron, Mr. Mark Lomod and Mr. James Ngaruro. After sanding
and preparing, filling innumerable holes and cracks, they were able
to begin painting, the ceiling with a white, the walls with a rich
cream, and the back wall behind the altar with a burgundy to highlight
the altar. At the same time all the skirting board, trim, back doors,
door frames were all stripped back to the original wood, which was
then stained and lacquered. It was astonishing that almost all this
work was accomplished within one week, due to late nights (sometimes
up to midnight) and early morning starts. The end result is impressive
and worthy of the house of God, and we are very grateful for it.
The other excitement
for the month was the arrival of a second hand Yamaha piano, whose
purchase was arranged by Father Pfluger. Installed in the staff
room, it has become the joy of the pianists in the community, of
whom there are several.
February 14th, a new seminarian of Malawi nationality arrived from
Zimbabwe, Mr. Zione Nanthambwe, commonly known by his baptismal
name of Pius. He will enter into first year along with Mr. John
Cameron from New Zealand and Mr. Maximilian Okamura from Japan,
who have already spent one year here as pre-seminarians.
After all the
great and beautiful ceremonies of the end of the year, the Seminary
was left with a skeleton crew of 3 or 4 seminarians, along with
the three brothers, to work the retreats. The seminarians rotate
around so that they can all have a break. However, the time helping
out for the retreats counts towards the one month summer apostolate
that they must perform.
For the very
first week of January three of our seminarians headed off for Queensland
with Father Bourmaud for a one week boys’ summer camp. At
the same time Father Ortiz preached the first of the summer retreats,
for 20 young men. He was assisted by Reverend Mr. Benjamin Campbell,
preaching the exercices of St. Ignatius for the first time.
second week, it was the turn of the Rector to preach to 12 women,
also assisted by Reverend Mr. Campbell. Meanwhile, on January 9
Father Elias buried one of his parishioners from Rockdale in the
Seminary cemetery, Mrs. Romana Chahine, a young mother of three.
The third week (January 14 - 19) Father Bourmaud preached a second
men’s Ignatian retreat, assisted by Reverend Mr. Jordie Stephens,
this time followed by only six men.
week (January 20 - 26), it was the opportunity for the priests themselves
to go on retreat. It was Father John Fullerton, U.S. District Superior,
who was invited by Father Black to preach the annual priests’
retreat. It was attended by eight priests of the Australian district,
two priests from New Zealand, and all four Seminary priests, a total
of 14 retreatants. In the peace and silence of recollection they
were able to work on the constant conversion to God of the priestly
was interrupted by a sad event. It was the funeral of Mr. Robert
Ashelford, father of Brother Joseph stationed here at the Seminary.
He had organized the traditional Mass in Bathurst for many years
and driven the priests while his health was up to it. He passed
away on January 19, at the age of nearly 82 years, and was buried
in the Seminary cemetery on January 23 with a Solemn High Requiem
Mass, with the priests as ministers and singing the Mass.
The final retreat
of the summer started on Monday January 28, and was an Ignatian
retreat, preached by Father Pfluger, assisted by Reverend Mr. Jordie
Stephens, final year seminarian. It was attended by 14 women. It
is gratifying to see so many young girls, just out of high school
(Tynong), deciding to do a retreat to help make the important decisions
in their lives.
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