Saturday, 17 March 2012 07:57



Seminaries and training for the priesthood have been changing over recent decades.


What is it like to be part of MSC formation today?



This is a question that intrigues many a parishioner.  We Missionaries of the Sacred Heart are blessed to have five students in Blackburn beavering away towards two of their goals – permanent commitment as MSC’s and the priesthood.  The five in question: ·   

Patrick Mara in his fourth year of study, having achieved his Bachelor’s degree in Theology (2011), and is now moving to the final period for the priesthood.

Tru Nguyen and Sandy Abbey who have both completed a sizeable percentage of their work towards either a Bachelor of Theology or the Masters in Theology.

Krish and Kimi Vunivelesuvu.  Both are at the beginning of the long and challenging journey towards degree status and beyond.

The chosen and major theological centre of formation is the Yarra TTheological Union at Box Hill.  In its Vision Statement it says in part:

Drawing from the rich traditions of the constituent religious orders,we enjoy a strong relationship with the broader theological community.  Operating from well-established facilities,we see ourselves as a key resource for the churches in Australia and our neighbouring countries.’ We MSCs, who were one of the founding congregations,  concur.

We also have the advantage of being able to enrol the students in other courses in spirituality at the Heart of Life Spirituality Centre, Box Hill, a leader in spirituality in Australia in the Christian context.

Studies tend to dominate the students day (and sometimes night).  However, they should never lose the emphasis on one’s own spiritual relationship with their God which takes precedence over study.  The day really begins and ends with prayer.  Our community gathers for an hour before breakfast to spend quality time in meditation and praying the official Prayer of the Church (The Divine Office).  And again in the evening we take time out to pray the Evening Prayer of the Church along with the opportunity to reflect on the activities of the day. These times are key to one’s relationship with God the ever faithful one.

Then it’s time for the Theological formation at the YTU and Heart of Life etc.  These input sessions generally take the form of lectures with their attendant assignments.  Some lectures are held in daylight hours, others in the evening.  It’s pretty much a full-on commitment attending lectures or putting together assignments that can be up to 4,000 words in length or even 6,000 words as each progresses to the completion of his goal. So the evening prayer time offers valuable reflection opportunities to integrate into one’spersonal life these studies.

We are often in attendance at parish daily masses including weekends. We are sometimes down at the local supermarket purchasing food.  We do have an outside cookpreparing a meal or two each week, but the bulk of the work is cared for by the students or even Fr Chris Murphy or Fr Frank Dineen, student director, in an emergency.

Other tasks such as weekly pastoral work, choir and music, house cleaning, gardening and laundry are fitted into this tight schedule, along with recreation and sport.  Yes, the schedule is tight,also challenging yet enjoyable.

We MSC are grateful that the parish has made the house at 71 Central Road available to us in addition to 18 Parkside Street as we increase in numbers.

We are grateful to the parishioners of St Thomas, Blackburn, for the ongoing care and support of this endeavour to form these and other young men in their respective journeys out of love to a God who invites them to be on earth the heart of God and ultimately to make that permanent commitment to him as a religious and the priesthood if God so wills.

Fr Frank Dineen, msc