by PETER GRACE
AUCKLAND — The chiefs took over the seminary while the Indians were away, from July 1 to 5.
The “chiefs” were 10 Oceania rectors, in town for the Oceania Rectors’ Conference, at Holy Cross Seminary. Seminarians were away on a between-semester break.
The formal part of the five-day programme followed three themes: Human formation, spiritual formation and pastoral formation. Some short trips were taken, such as a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral.
On Friday, the group travelled north on a hikoi to the cradle of the Faith in New Zealand, the Hokianga and Bay of Islands. They arrived back in Auckland on Saturday evening.
Fr Tecle Tewolde, CM, from Honiara, told NZ Catholic the conference was well organised, and added to what rectors were already doing.
“Everyone has his programmes and we do different things… It will help to enhance our information and our programmes,” he said.
The session the day before [Tuesday] on the human formation of men was very good. “It’s [human
formation] still so basic, it’s the ground to build on the others,” Fr Tewolde said.
Fr Mick O’Connor, SM, from Suva, said informal sharing that happened just by being together
for a while was also valuable. “We gain most from sharing together and learning what each other is doing,” he said.
A lunch table discussion between Fr O’Connor, Fr Tewolde and Fr Jacek Tendej, CM, from Bomana,
talked about the academic challenges they faced at times with their students.
“I think maintaining a standard of entry is a major issue for us,” Fr O’Connor said. There could be a huge diversity of backgrounds and education in the men coming to them. “We need to bring more up to a proper level and then after that they can move up to the academic level.”
Fr Tewolde said that in Fiji’s case, students came from a variety of countries. “But in our case, they come from different islands.”
There were three topics presented each morning from Tuesday to Thursday, and three colloquiums
Participants came from Bomana, Vanimo and Mt Hagen (all Papua New Guinea), Perth (two),
Honiara (Solomon Islands), Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Suva.
A visitor from Rome was Fr Fernando Domingues of the Comboni Fathers, who is the director general of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
by PETER GRACE