Friday, 27 August 2021 23:08

A 50th Jubilee Reflection – Terry Herbert MSC

A 50th Jubilee Reflection – Terry Herbert MSC

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My  50th Jubilee Reflections


God’s gentle but persistent “call” was with me from my very early years (about 6 or 7!); with wonderful parents, exemplary in their faith-practice and self-sacrificing love …. following that call was inevitable! I rejected it during teenage years - not good enough, don’t have the brains! The weather, has been my life-long passion and interest … at least 2 - 3 hours daily, keeping records, reading weather books, writing a weekly report (+ a weekend prediction!!) for the local Newspaper for 6 years from age 13 … living very full, interest-filled days – juggling school work , chores, sport, altar-serving at local Mass 4 days per week, and much more. I failed the LC Exams twice – 1956 and 57. I was too slow at exams.  After 3 years in the work-a-day world - 1958 in the Building Trade - accounts, wages, secretarial, and studied  a couple of subjects to finally pass the LC over 2 years; then two years at Sydney Bureau, trained in weather forecasting by Allan Wilkie, my vocation came-together very happily, end of 1960;  it was a peaceful choice between a promotion  in weather work, and during a beautiful relationship, “recently” email-renewed! Over 50 years that discernment process has been many times affirmed.

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In 1961, I needed (then) to study Latin (at our centre at Douglas Park), then my Noviciate in 1962, before 3 years tertiary study (Philosophy and much else) at our Canberra Seminary; I took a “break” of 2 years, teaching and looking after boarders, etc. at Chevalier College ….. where I was asked if I’d like to join the first group at St Paul’s National Seminary for Late Vocations at Kensington, for my final 4 years study.

That was one of my best decisions ….


After the first lecture in Feb 1968, our first Rector Fr Jim Cuskelly msc, came outside while we 10, sat on the edge of a small table, lit a cigarette (1968!) …. “well chaps, I’ve waited a long time for this, to make a complete new start to Seminary Formation”.  A man ahead of his time, that change was to train us differently, in a freer, less-regimented, less legalistic, more-pastoral environment, still prayerful and Christ-centred, towards a ministry of humble service, out among the people, with no hint of status, power nor entitlement (faces of “clericalism”), strongly aligned with the person and spirit of Jesus…. the non-violent, suffering servant of God, setting hearts free by his kindness, gentleness, generosity, equal acceptance of all people, and especially his compassion. Fr Cuskelly’s vision was to prioritise this at St Paul’s, via the all-MSC Staff, and his own writings such as “A Heart to Know Thee”. A glimpse of this spirit seems to be well-expressed in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, 1:3-11. I greatly appreciated the pastoral freedom to part-time teach at a High School, on our “free” day, and visit many of the student’s homes.


Over 50 years, the first part of the Gospel we chose (Mk1:9-13) has really come alive, for me …. as it did for Jesus, but in different words and in different places through all the people I’ve encountered …1000’s during 42 years in schools, 3 in Parish Ministry, 410 Weddings,  360 Baptisms and Funerals, and the immense love I’ve received from visiting many families - all summed up in Jesus’ own experience:  “you are my own dear son, I love you dearly, my favour rests on you”.


But very soon after Ordination, 21/8/71, the words of Denis Murphy msc came “alive”.  In November 1970, the day before we were ordained Deacons, he quietly said to us, at the end of a lecture at St Paul’s …

“Gentlemen, tomorrow you will all be ordained into a ministry of failure”.

That shook me, at the time;  I now realise that the second part of that Gospel (Mk 1:9-13) was / is part of our vocation…. impelled into the wilderness of life through many forms of ministry, with its’ fears, uncertainties, temptations, failures, criticism, being falsely accused and bullied, not having answers to complex problems … and much more.  I’m learning to live-in-prayer, to “cast one’s care upon the Lord and God will support you”.  In that, I haven’t  been disappointed; instead, I’ve been energised, beyond words, steadily converted, opened-up to God’s gentle, life-giving presence, with an ever deepening faith, and a certain Hope in (for we all) being transformed in glory ….“what we suffer now, can’t be compared to what God has prepared for those who love…”. (Paul to the Corinthians)…. always unfinished business, in this life.

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So after 50 very full years, living as an MSC priest continues to be a wonderful life, always open to surprises … and, as Paul wrote, “urged on by the charity of Christ”.


 My daily prayer-support  … desiring the best, for all people ….

… and we’ll all know the fruits of our lives, love and suffering, in the New Creation.



                                             …..Terence Herbert msc   1971 / 2021

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