Australia : A Seminary « Down Under »

Source: FSSPX News

For more than 20 years, the Australian seminary of the Society of St.Pius X, Holy Cross, has been training and ordaining priests coming mainly from Asia and Oceania. So that you can get to know it better, we interviewed its rector, Fr. Vicente Griego.

When was the seminary founded?

Holy Cross Seminary was established in 1988 at a site in Queensland, and shortly thereafter the seminary moved to Lake Bathurst in New South Wales, outside of Goulburn, where it presently is located, about two hours drive southeast of Sydney. Goulburn was the first city in Australia established inland and played a significant role in the region’s sheep and wool industry.

Why in Australia?

Australia (picturesque but arid) was chosen to host a seminary of the Society for varied reasons. Located in an English-speaking country and in the Southern Hemisphere, the country seemed fitting to accommodate vocations from not only Australia but “neighbouring” countries in the Pacific region. Indeed, at the time of the foundation of Holy Cross Seminary, there were numerous candidates from Australia and a budding apostolate in the Philippines.

What is the condition of Tradition in Australia? And what about the Catholic religion?

Concerning the state of Catholicism in Australia, the percentage of Catholics in a country whose
population is twenty-two million, is around 25 percent. The Society has about two thousand faithful throughout the country.

Where exactly is the seminary? Could you give us a description of
the surroundings ?

The seminary is located in the midst of farm land used primarily for sheep and cattle raising, and in fact was a Christian Brothers’ agricultural school before its purchase by the Society. A number of livestock crops are grown despite the scant rainfall. The terrain is hilly with a not too distant range of small mountains. Huge pastures for livestock grazing are interrupted
at various times of the year by the bright yellow flowers of canola or fields of oat or wheat grain. Recently one farmer had a large tract of land covered with turnips, which provided the sheep that grazed it with a rich diet and put many nutrients into the ground – an effort to better the poor soil in this area. Another graceful sight is the violet bloom that invades many fields
– the weed called Parson’s Curse – visually pretty for the passer-by on the highway, but detrimental to choice crops or pasture and unwanted by the farmer.

What is the profile of the seminarians ? Where do they come from, from a geographical and spiritual point of view?

Since its foundation, Holy Cross Seminary has trained and ordained priests from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, India, as well as from more distant lands, France and the United States of America. Historically, many of the seminarians coming from outside Australia have been new to Tradition when they enter, while the opposite is true of the Australian entrants.

What is the average number of seminarians per promotion? How many people are on the teaching staff ?

Presently, the average number of seminarians in each class is two to three – notwithstanding the absence of any sixth-year seminarian, the total number of major seminarians being twelve! There are also six young men discerning their vocation in the pre-seminary, which
essentially completes a secondary education in the seminary environment. Currently, there are six priests assigned to the seminary. Even though the number of seminarians is small, there are in fact nine years of schooling provided by the staff here, which includes three laymen. There are also five Brothers stationed here; they provide a valuable support in the seminary’s community life as well as helping to maintain the old buildings and assist with the daily running of the seminary.

What languages are the courses in ?

English being the language of the country, most subjects are conducted in English. Courses in English are provided in the pre-seminary to better prepare seminarians who are not fluent in the language for the philosophical and theological studies that they will undertake later on.

When do ordinations take place ?

Holy Cross Seminary has sent numerous seminarians to the Society’s seminaries in Switzerland and the United States after the completion of the philosophical studies. Of
these, sixteen priests have been ordained over the years. Since Holy Cross Seminary began offering a sixyear seminary curriculum in 2003, twelve priests have been ordained at Holy Cross. Priests ordained at Holy Cross have been assigned to Australia, the Philippines, the United States, France and Zimbabwe. Ordinations occur in late December, which is the beginning of the summer in Australia.

More informations :

(Sources: FSSPX DICI No. 214, May , 2010)