Wollongong, July 18, 2019: International students from India studying at Australian universities gathered in Wollongong on July 17 for a cultural event deemed so important it was opened by two bishops.
The Syro Malabar Youth Movement Wollongong, an initiative of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, invited the students to Wollongong for a day of workshops and activities.
The Xavier Conference Centre next to St Francis Xavier Cathedral was provided by the Wollongong Catholic diocese for the event. It was about launching a platform to provide a support network for international students across Australia. Around 90 students attended and the underlying theme was living a purpose driven life.
Bishop Bosco Puthur of the Syro Malabar Eparchy of Australia traveled to Wollongong from Melbourne for the gathering. He and Bishop Brian Mascord of Wollongong welcomed the students and performed an inauguration ceremony to start proceedings.
Bishop Mascord described the visit to Wollongong by so many Indian students as a wonderful opportunity.
“Having a large population of Indian students is great because they bring diversity,” he said.
“What Syro Malabar Youth Movement is about is promoting links between students. It is promoting a support network. Many of the students are away from their families for a long period of time. But through this they actually have a network of people who can support them”.
Bishop Mascord said in Wollongong important connections have been made between students from universities across Australia.
Bishop Puthur noted how significant it was that the cathedral next to the conference center was named after St Francis Xavier.
“Francis Xavier was a university student in Paris like you. He was very ambitious. But through the influence of friends he became more religious. He became a priest, a missionary and he came to India. He became a great missionary saint.”
Bishop Puthur said the power of friendship and support was significant. Because it was easy to get lost when you are studying in another country far from home. “But being together and helping each other makes all of us grow and become greater”.
“The main purpose of this is coming together. And I am very grateful to you that you came today”.