Holy Cross Seminary

Recent Events

July - December 2008

JUNE 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 of weeks.

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.

Then, starting on Sunday June 22, Father Elias began the preaching of the annual Third Order Carmelite retreat, to 15 retreatants, 12 men and 3 women.

Meanwhile, 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.

On Saturday 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 Blood.

MAY 2008

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.

On Saturday 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 May 21.

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.

On Thursday 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 year.

After several 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.


A group of Minor Seminarians about to set out on the hike.

A 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.

APRIL 2008

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.

Trenches all 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.

The project 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.

Influenced 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 modernism.

Father Michael 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”.

However, to 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.

MARCH 2008

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.

Father Alain 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.

Our growing 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.

Classes for 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.

Nine students 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.

This gives 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 Asian district.

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.


A huge 24 ton shovel begins to dig the hole
for the Seminary’s new water storage tank.

The 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.


Saturday 2nd, 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

On Thursday 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.

During the 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.

The following 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 life.

The retreat 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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Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia