by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — Five New Zealand dioceses have seminarians starting at Holy Cross Seminary in Ponsonby in 2012.
The diverse group of 10 new seminarians features Kiwis, an American and men from the Philippines.
Michael Walker, 31, from Holy Name parish, Dunedin North, was a support worker in the health sector, working mainly in the mental health field, before entering the seminary.
Although many factors have influenced him on his faith journey, a trip to Europe, and especially the Vatican with his brother in 2007, saw him return with a sense of wanting to serve God and others in the community.
A graduate of the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Communication Studies and a post-graduate diploma in public health, Mr Walker hopes his seminary experience will help him grow in faith and hope in God, to prepare him to serve the people of Dunedin diocese.
Anthony Trenwith, 32, from St Michael’s parish, Remuera, Auckland, worked as a lawyer for several years in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
A graduate of the University of Auckland and a barrister, Mr Trenwith’s years in the UK saw him work for the British equivalent of our Inland Revenue Department.
A growing desire to do more with his life and to serve God through helping people attracted him to the idea of a vocation.
Mr Trenwith hopes to grow as part of a community of brothers in the seminary and to keep journeying towards whatever God wants of him and to serve his people in whatever way he can.
Glen Brennan, 22, from St Thomas More Parish, Mt Maunganui and St Patrick’s, Te Puke, worked on dairy farms and orchards in the Bay of Plenty before coming to Holy Cross.
Falling in love with Eucharist and the Catholic Church saw Mr Brennan attracted to the idea of priesthood.
He hopes his time in the seminary will see him learn how to be a father and “physician of souls”.
Mark Bond, 22, from the cathedral parish in Auckland has finished a degree in English and psychology at the University of Auckland.
Asked about what attracted him to the idea of a vocation, Mr Bond referred to Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, my Lord.”
He linked his own happiness to having his works and thoughts being acceptable to God and his glory. God led him on this journey through various studies, and none of them were satisfying, he said.
He hopes that he will grow in love and have a good sense of community with fellow seminarians and reach out and be Christ to others.
Before coming to the seminary, Tony King-Archer, 30, worked as an accountant.
From St Patrick’s cathedral parish in Auckland, Mr King-Archer said thoughts of a vocation were first triggered by a homily he heard in Northcote parish many years ago.
At the seminary, he hopes to grow in faith and knowledge, fulfilling his vocation potential with an ultimate ideal of conforming himself to the image of Christ the priest.
A later vocation, John Hill from St Michael’s parish, Remuera, Auckland, is a widower after his wife of 30 years, Dianne, died two years ago.
Working in real estate and tourism, and running his own company for a time, Mr Hill had trained for a religious order, the Passionists, as a young man.
Describing the time after his wife’s death as a “wilderness experience”, Mr Hill coped by making his prayers centre on gratitude. He realised he still had a journey ahead of him, and wondered what that was meant to be. Very good spiritual direction and support from his parish priest helped him towards the move to a priestly vocation.
This is a new path he is following and he is open to what it leads to, he said, describing the journey ahead as an “adventure”.
Bryan Buenger, 53, from Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States of America, felt called to priesthood while praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament in Queenstown during a visit in 2009. He had just walked the Milford Track. This was his fourth holiday in New Zealand.
The Phoenix diocese will not accept new seminarians over the age of 40, so, after discussions with the vocations director there, he wrote to several New Zealand dioceses. After speaking with Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North, Mr Buenger felt attracted to serving there.
A former English teacher, Mr Buenger visited a marae soon after arriving in New Zealand in early February, an experience he described as “wonderful”. Mr Buenger had studied Maori art at university in the United States.
He hopes his time in the seminary will see him learn more of New Zealand’s culture and help him adapt to it.
Three students from the Philippines have all undertaken seminary studies before in their previous homeland before moving to New Zealand.
Nathaniel Brazil, 25, and Ferdinand Miranda, 34, both spent several years in formation at Immaculate Conception Major Seminary in the Philippines before coming to New Zealand last year.
Both spent several months in parishes in Palmerston North diocese last year.
Mr Brazil and Mr Miranda are looking forward to learning more about New Zealand culture and the local Church during their time in the seminary.
Hearing about the possibility of evangelisation in New Zealand sparked Mr Miranda’s interest in serving in the country.
Mr Brazil is looking forward to being a help to the Church in Palmerston North.
Dennis Nacorda, 33, also undertook seminary studies for the Missionary Society of the Philippines before coming to New Zealand.
Before entering the seminary, Mr Nacorda worked as a veterinarian in his former country. Now a student for the Wellington archdiocese, he arrived in New Zealand last year and resided at St Mary’s Parish, Blenheim.
He is looking forward to learning more about life as a diocesan priest during his seminary training.
The 10 new seminarians bring the total number of seminarians at Holy Cross Seminary to 27 with another two being on pastoral years in Auckland’s Glenfield parish and Wellington’s Island Bay parish.
by MICHAEL OTTO