Priests from an Indian missionary congregation already ministering in Brisbane are expected to start a new mission in Townsville diocese next year.
Following a visit to Kerela, India, Townsville Bishop Tim Harris, Fr Rod Ward and Discalced Carmelite Father John Kunnathumadapillil have reported fruitful meetings took place with the provincial leaders of the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
“I’ve arrived back in the country from Kerala, India, where I have had a very successful visit, an inspirational visit in fact,” Bishop Harris said on his return.
“I am pleased to report that the two provinces of the MCBS congregation have promised Townsville four priests that hopefully will join us sometime in 2018.
“Fr Rod and Fr John will both attest to the faith and missionary spirit of these men and I am very happy with our discussions and insights.”
During the visit, Bishop Harris took time to meet with the leaders of the Order of Discalced Carmelites and renewed Townsville diocese’s agreement with them.
“I look forward to meeting Fr Sebastian when he comes to visit us in Townsville,” he said.
“We have a promise that the OCDs will stay with us into the future.”
Bishop Harris acknowledged on several occasions when travelling around the diocese that it was his mission to ensure that the Church in Townsville diocese remained “Eucharistic” and, to ensure that this was possible, the diocese needed priests.
“There aren’t young men knocking down our door to become priests in the diocese, so we need to seek alternative solutions,” he said.
“With this come challenges, not only for us as priests, but for the communities that these men work and minister in.”
The diocese was aware there were challenges it would face and that the community would face with them together, and Bishop Harris said it was far better to bring men to the diocese through a congregation and develop a good relationship with their superiors and that was what the journey to India had achieved.
Bishop Harris and Fr Ward also had time to meet with the families of Fr Kunnathumadapillil and fellow Discalced Carmelite Father Joshy John who have been working in the diocese for several years.
“It was wonderful to meet the families of these men who have given freely of their vocation to come to Townsville to be part of the diocese and be the face of Jesus to their parishes,” he said.