Homily of Archbishop B J Hickey

Official opening of the Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary

Redemptoris Mater

15th August – Feast of the Assumption

Inauguration Homily
Archbishop Barry James Hickey delivering the Homily

My dear friends, as it was said in the very beginning, it is a highlight of the Archdiocese of Perth that two seminaries have been opened in the one year: St. Charles’ Seminary – I am very pleased that the students are here tonight – and now the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, that for the time being will be located in Morley; my two Seminaries.

The decision to open the Redemptoris Mater Seminary is one that has interested many people, is one that we must carefully explain, because, in the face of it, it is hard to understand why we have two seminaries, both of them diocesan. St. Charles’ Seminary, the reason for it is clear. St. Charles will produce priests for our parishes, priests for the special work of this Archdiocese and the city of Perth, the Archdiocese of Perth should be large enough also to have a viable seminary and, although we have here only the first year seminarians, we hope, please God, that each year a new intake will make the seminary grow and prosper. And so, why a second seminary?

The decision to open a Redemptoris Mater Seminary has not been an easy one for me to make. There were very few here in W.A. to be consulted, because the idea is quite recent. So I informed myself, as well as I could, on my various trips to Rome and elsewhere in the last three years; and I have visited the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Rome on two occasions; I have visited very recently the Redemptoris Mater in Newark, in U.S.A., I am very pleased to see that one of the recently ordained priests is here with us and some seminarians also; we would have met a couple of months ago. And I have spoken to Cardinal Hume in London, where there is another Redemptoris Mater Seminary; I have spoken to those in charge of the seminaries. At the same time I have examined, as closely as I can, the very recent phenomena of the Neocatechumenal Way, that is so strong in many countries.

The reason I have finally decided to open the Redemptoris Mater Seminary is because I am convinced that we must take very seriously what the Holy Father calls the New Evangelisation. It is clear that over recent years, perhaps the past hundred years, the strength that Christianity has had in many countries has begun to weaken. It is clear in my own country here in Australia that the vast majority that belongs to the Catholic faith no longer attends Sunday Mass. It is clear that many, (the majority, who call themselves Christians) do not attend their own churches.

It is also clear that at a time of decline of attendance of Catholic and other Christian Churches, there has been an erosion of the standards that have been set by Christian principles in the past: erosion of standards set for marriage and its intimacy and its fidelity, erosion of standards set for family life, erosion of the various moral laws that protects life either in its infancy or in its old age; a shift from the recognition of an external moral order which we must bow before and accept into our life, to a situation where we become determinants of our own morality, it becomes personal choice and it has become what we think it is right or wrong.

That is perhaps the most serious thing that is happening, that the external moral order has been denied and morality has become subjective and belief has already suffered as a result, belief in God and belief in the ten sentences of God, belief that we are the creatures of God and therefore owe God obedience in our life.

With that, the clarity of the Good News of Jesus Christ is no longer what it was. That is the task of the new Evangelisation, to begin again to Christianise occident-orient, to preach the Good News to a world which has turned away from him. We who attend our Churches, who worship God at our Sunday Eucharist must be the best Catholics that we can possibly be, so that the Good News will radiate out through our own lives.

And I have committed myself to encourage those groups who are willing to go beyond their parish boundaries and go beyond the comforts of their homes and go into society generally and say “This is the Good News of Jesus Christ”.

I have discovered that those who are following the Neocatechumenal Way prepare themselves for precisely that mission of the new evangelisation.

That those groups have produced many, many vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life around the world and the Way that they follow has a spirituality all of its own and it became clear that those who want to assist the Neocatechumenal Way as priests needed their own special type of formation amidst therefore their own seminaries.

I am pleased, after much prayer and deliberation, after consultation and deep thought TO ANNOUNCE THE FORMATION, THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NEW SEMINARY REDEMPTORIS MATER, in order to produce priests who are missionaries, priests who are urban missionaries, priests who understand the New Evangelisation, priests who will go beyond the normal fields in which priests work, to preach the Gospel to those who no longer walk with us.

They will assist this diocese in many ways, although they are not primarily destined to be parish priests, but that will maybe come about one day; they will assist neocatechumenal missionary families, who are working here in dechristianised areas and ready to go around the world to bear witness to the Good News. They will accompany those families and they will assist bishops in other dioceses where there is a serious decline of vocations and a great need of priests.

Therefore this Archdiocese of Perth is establishing this seminary is reaching beyond herself, beyond their own boundaries in order to foster a modern missionary movement, to be missionaries in the cities, to be missionaries in the areas of high population, to be missionaries in those places where Christ’s reign was once honoured and where it is now almost forgotten.

Hence the need for two seminaries and there is no competition, there is no conflict between the two, because St. Charles’ Seminary will draw young adult men from this Catholic community, they will come from our parishes, from our families and are formed to be priests for this Archdiocese.

The Redemptoris Mater Seminary will draw young men from the various communities which are established not only here but in other parts of the world.

Tonight I wish to read the Decree to establish the ‘Redemptoris Mater’ Seminary in Perth.