I thought I’d put a little update up about some of the happenings in the Brisbane Oratory in Formation (BOF).
Since the blessing of Casa San Girolamo (CSG), the residence of the members of the BOF, back on Ash Wednesday (at which the four priest members of the community were present), all five members of the community were able to gather at CSG at the end of April. Brother Shawn Murphy, our seminarian, was home in Australia during the summer break in Toronto, where he is currently nearing the end of his first year of formation. The gathering of the whole community was a blessed and happy time, since it is rare at this stage for us all to be together. With the exception of Father Paul Chandler and myself who are living in community in Annerley Ekibin Parish in Brisbane, the community is still scattered geographically. Our time together was also fruitful, and our meeting times enabled us to more clearly articulate the process we will follow as we discern with the men who indicate a desire to join our community. We were able to catch up on other items of business and administrative issues. Even at this preliminary stage there is plenty to be done. Brother Shawn gave a presentation to the community based on his first year of formation which he has undertaken at the Toronto Oratory. We hope to get that uploaded to the Oratory website shortly.
At our gathering in April we also received the Oratory lapel pins which Father Andrew Wise had arranged to be made. They are a good conversation piece: I wear mine most of the time.
Much time was spent in recent months, especially by Father Paul and the organizing committee, in preparation for the inaugural Vallicella Dinner, which was held last Saturday evening. The night was a wonderful success, bringing together supporters and friends of the Oratory for a very enjoyable social occasion. A panel discussion during the evening helped explain the purpose and objectives of an Oratory, and this aspect of the night was appreciated by many. One of the goals of the evening was to raise funds to pay for the formation of our seminarians, and we were very pleased that we seem to have raised in the vicinity of $30,000, which will pay for two seminarians for one year. This was a wonderful achievement, and we are most grateful to our benefactors and friends for helping us achieve this. The formation of priests for the Church is certainly a worthy cause which many are pleased to be able to assist.
Part of the fundraising on the evening was various auctions. Auction items included three zuchetti (skull caps) which had been worn, respectively, by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, Cardinal Pell, and the newly ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, Bishop Robert Byrne, who at the time of his election to the episcopate was a priest of the Birmingham Oratory. He is the first Oratorian Bishop in England in 140 years. The zuchetti generated much interest, and also generous bidding!
Father Adrian Sharp, Father Andrew Wise, Brother Shawn Murphy, Father Paul Chandler, taken during the community’s time together in April (the identity of the fourth priest member is not yet able to be released). Brother Shawn is wearing the distinctive Oratorian habit.
With the dinner concluded, one of the next things the community will be deciding is who will be sent to begin their formation in Toronto in September, the beginning of the academic year in Canada. We have about seven men in varying stages of discernment at the moment, and several are close to the point of submitting a formal application. Please keep all our enquirers in your prayers; and also the community as it makes its decisions about who to accept at this stage.
Archbishop Coleridge continues to work on the matter of the Oratory’s eventual home. This is also a matter that needs much prayer, because the proper venue and arrangement for the Oratory house is crucial.
All the members of the community will be travelling to Rome in January for the five-yearly International Clergy Conference jointly organised by the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy in Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States. We will, of course, be making visits to important Oratorian sites in Rome, not the least of which is the tomb of our Holy Founder and Father, Saint Philip Neri. After our stay in Rome, we will be going to stay for some days at the London Oratory. There we will be meeting up with Fr Michael Lang who was appointed by the Procurator General of the Confederation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri as our liaison person with the Confederation, to assist in the proper establishment of the Brisbane Oratory.
So there is much happening in our community. Please pray that all our efforts to establish the first Oratory in Oceania will be surrounded with God’s blessing and protection. Saint Philip Neri, and our other patron saints, pray for us!