Holy Cross Seminary
of St. Pius X Opens New Seminary
At last, thanks to much effort and the grace of God, a traditional Catholic seminary has been opened here in Australia for the entire district of Australasia. Under the patronage of the Holy Cross, this new seminary undertakes to train young men who have a vocation to the priesthood. It is training them according to the traditional norms for the formation of priests, such as were used in all Catholic seminaries before the Second Vatican Council. This indeed is a unique privilege for Australia, when most of the modern seminaries are either closing or nearly empty through want of vocations. We already have twelve young men who are willing to dedicate their lives to the service of God, and the salvation of souls, in the Roman Catholic priesthood.
Fr. William Welsh, Rector of the new Holy Cross Seminary,
stands with his assistant, Fr. Lionel Hery.
Holy Cross Seminary was officially opened on the nineteenth of March, the Feast of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin, with a Missa Cantata celebrated in the seminary chapel by the Rector, Fr. Welsh. The first day was a day of orientation for the seminarians, some of whom had never set foot on Australian soil before, and even on the first day, those entering Holy Cross Seminary were not without their share of crosses. Firstly, some of the meat intended for lunch was reduced to charcoal in the oven (yes, a seminarian was left in charge of it!), and later in the day, while on an afternoon walk, several seminarians were subjected to a torrential downpour of rain. This left them saturated to the skin, and also a bit more wary of Queensland weather! (As you may know, we've had so much torrential rain that all of S-E Queensland has been declared a Disaster Area).
On Sunday afternoon, the cook for the seminary arrived (amid sighs of relief and shouts of glee from the seminarians).
On Sunday evening, the opening retreat began. During the next seven days, we were able to reflect in silence on conferences dealing with "The Value of Silence", "Renouncement of the World", "The Vocation to the Priesthood", "Self-knowledge and Humility", "True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin", "Mortification", and other such subjects, all of which are essential to those about to embrace the Religious Life.
After seven days the retreat came to an end, and the Rector warned us, that we would soon be wishing for a return to the silence and recollection as we began the preparation for the busiest and richest time of the liturgical year, Holy Week. On the morning of Palm Sunday, we had our first attempt at a procession, that of carrying the palms around the grounds, while chanting "Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe Redemptor"—"Glory, praise and honour be to Thee, Christ, Redeemer, King"—and then, during the Mass of Palm Sunday, the reading of the Passion according to St. Matthew.
The Easter Vigil Service
In the afternoon of Palm Sunday, after the end of the retreat at lunch time, we went on a walk through a State Forest, about twenty miles away, and we were kept busy speculating on where we would be in the near future. At present, the people of the town seem to be quite happy to have us here, there is no malice as such (although every Sunday, the local hall next to the Motor Inn is full of singing, clapping charismatics).
On the Monday of Holy Week, we began in earnest the preparation for the ceremonies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. For some, this meant trying to get our voices attuned to the complex Gregorian chant. The choir was left to the direction of Fr. Hery, and there is no doubt we must have tried him sorely! For the others, it meant trying to commit to memory the intricate liturgy for this Sacred Triduum, under the care of Fr. Welsh.
After four days of intense preparation, we made our way to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Exley where the ceremonies were to be held. In spite of our inexperience, the laity commented that the ceremonies were edifying and well conducted.
Since Passion Sunday, all the statues and crucifixes have been veiled, and on the last few days of Holy Week, the liturgy itself goes through the death of Christ. All bells are silent, the organ is not played after the Gloria on Thursday night, no Mass is celebrated on Friday or Saturday, to impress upon the faithful the awesomeness of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. This austerity makes the jubilation of Saturday night more appreciated.
On Easter Sunday morning after Mass, we prepared for another outing to the State Forest, this time for a barbecue lunch. The weather had not much improved (it had been raining almost non-stop for the past five days). The cars slipped up the muddy road to the picnic area in the forest, where some of us spent over an hour trying to light the fire for the barbecue with wet wood. Eventually we had lunch and afterwards we all went on a bush walk, nearly losing our way at one stage, the track not being much different from the surrounding bush. We made it back safely to our point of departure, just as the rain began to pour from the sky.
On Easter Monday we "hit the books" for the beginning of our academic year, with classes in Spirituality, Latin, Sacred Scripture, Liturgy, Acts of Magisterium, French and Gregorian Chant. As can be imagined, with all of this to get through, there is no time to be wasted, and every day has a carefully mapped-out schedule, to provide the right balance of spiritual, manual, academic and recreational exercises necessary in the formation of traditional Catholic seminarians.
Although at present we are in a Motor Inn, we hope soon for a more permanent place in which to settle. Until such time as this comes about, we will go wherever Divine Providence seems to indicate, resigned to the Will of God and the maternal care of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
—Anthony Billington, Seminarian.