The View From Home (October 2020)

 By Jackson Saunders

In this spring racing season, there is a sense among the seminarians that we are approaching the final bend for the home straight in the 2020 academic year.

This has been a year like no other, with university lectures held online since March and seminary formation completed remotely in the parish for most of the year.Jackson October 350

I have been fortunate to be based at St Kilian’s Parish in Bendigo for the second semester where I have tuned into lectures at Catholic Theological College each week.

It has been a great joy to be able to be in the parish at this time, as it has meant that I have been able to live in the Diocese among you, as well as be closer to family and friends. These same opportunities would not have been available had I been in Melbourne or Rome.

In recent times, it has been good to slowly re-connect with parishioners as restrictions have eased. This has meant that outdoor public Masses have been able to resume for ten people. There have also been some other opportunities to connect with local priests and parishioners.

During this time, we have continued to reach out to parishioners through our live-streamed services at St Kilian’s, such as the daily Masses and Rosaries. It has been a pleasure to be able to be part of these, however, I am continually conscious of the faithful in the Diocese who would like to be with us. Whenever we gather for our broadcast services in the chapel of St Kilian’s, be assured that we continue to think of you all.

For the past six months or so, since parishioners have been unable to gather with us in the usual way, a strong bond has developed amongst all of us living at St Kilian’s. Those in residence include Parish Administrator, Fr Junray Rayna; Assistant Priest, Fr Rob Galea and Priest in Residence, Fr Paul Purcell. From the seminary, there is Deacon DJ Suguitan, as well as seminarians Don Peña, Jamie Castillo and myself. It has been a blessing to be living with this community during this time.

In the coming weeks, DJ, Don, Jamie and myself will be completing assessments for each of our subjects, with the academic year scheduled to finish on November 13.

In addition to our full-time studies, we will also continue our weekly Friday formation meetings with the seminary. Other commitments will include meetings with our formators and spiritual directors. All of these are conducted online via Zoom, Google Meet or FaceTime.

We also continue to stay connected with other seminarians across Victoria and interstate.

We continue to hold you in our prayers and thank you for your prayerful encouragement, as we head to the finish line for another seminary year.


Photographs: Don Peña