A ‘ripper’ start to seminary studies


seminary 350

By Jackson Saunders
Sandhurst Seminarian

It’s been a ‘ripper’ start to 2018 at Corpus Christi College.
While I am confident that most in the Sandhurst Diocese would be familiar with this word ‘ripper,’ it may be possible that some are not as familiar with this Aussie Slang.
My copy of The Dinkum Dictionary: A Ripper Guide to Aussie English defines ‘ripper’ as something that is excellent or splendid; or suggests that it can be used in reference to an admirable person.
This is one of the slangs which we have introduced in our ‘Aussie Slang of the Week’ segment, which takes place each Monday night before dinner at the seminary. ‘Ripper’ is one of the most popular slangs which has been introduced and has since become part of our conversations in our daily tasks and studies.
Fifth-year Melbourne seminarian, Jude Johnson, and I announce a new Aussie slang each week, with an explanation of how the slang can be used.
Jude, who is originally from Myanmar (Burma), loves Aussie Slang, and it is our hope that we can help to teach some of the overseas students some ‘Aussie Slang.’
The concept has been embraced by students and staff, and has become a bit of fun for our community each week.
Aussie Slangs which have been used this year include: ‘your blood is worth bottling,’ ‘dig in,’ ‘earbashing,’ ‘take a spell,’ and ‘keep your chin up mate.’
Other popular slangs from the past two years have included: ‘ripper,’ ‘she’ll be right mate,’ and ‘I’m going to hit the hay.’
The initiative was started in 2016 by Jude and me, with the idea of introducing popular Australian slangs, which are regularly used in day-to-day conversations.
It has been a joy to be able to personally support this initiative at the seminary and help to introduce the overseas students to our Australian culture.
At the same time, however, I have been enriched in my learnings about other people and cultures by the many different nationalities at our multicultural seminary in Carlton.
In total, there are 13 different nationalities. While there are a number of locals studying for the priesthood, the two biggest nationalities with students in formation for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College are Vietnamese and Filipinos. This includes three students from the Philippines in formation for the priesthood in the Sandhurst Diocese.
Other nationalities represented at Corpus Christi College include Myanmar, India, Colombia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Poland and Singapore.
Each day I am enriched by the encounters which I have with these amazing young men, who are keen to embrace the Australian culture.
They have generously left what is familiar to them in their homelands to come to Australia and serve as future priests in Victoria and Tasmania. This is a great encouragement to locals such as me in formation for the priesthood.
Each of the students, regardless of his nationality, brings something special and unique, which inspires me in my own vocational journey to the priesthood.
It is fascinating to learn about their own life experiences, countries and cultures. Sometimes I can take for granted how different it is for them in Australia.
In Vietnam, for instance, it is a popular tradition to go to Mass at 4.30am in the morning, including on New Year’s Day. I joke with them that I would never envisage this happening in Australia!
The Vietnamese are an inspiration to us all in their study. They are disciplined, determined and very thoughtful individuals, who endlessly put others before themselves. I recall breaking my arm in my first year at the seminary. One of the first people to offer assistance to me with my studies after my injury was a newly arrived Vietnamese student, who was still grasping English at that time.
In the Philippines, the Catholic faith is so embedded into everyday culture to the extent where religious music and signs are evident or heard in shopping centres, public transport and restaurants.
Their prayer and devotion are extraordinary, and their ability to relate to others in the ‘Aussie’ context never ceases to amaze me.
In African countries such as Nigeria or Zimbabwe, it is expected that priests will give homilies for about 45 minutes. As such, Mass usually lasts for about two hours. The liturgies are also charismatic celebrations with lots of song and dance on some special occasions. The energy of the African students at our seminary is often contagious and I am confident that they will have a positive impact in our parishes, albeit with much shorter homilies!
While it would be great to speak about each of the cultures at Corpus Christi College, there are too many to explain all.
With all of this in mind, we gather at Corpus Christi College and bring a variety of experiences in our formation for the priesthood.
We are now seven weeks in to our studies for 2018 and the year has got off to a ‘ripper’ start.
We arrived in mid-February and our first two weeks included a summer school, meetings and an orientation retreat.
This was followed by the beginning of classes at university. We have since completed four weeks of classes at Catholic Theological College, which is part of the University of Divinity.
We have also commenced our pastoral work experiences in parishes, schools, hospitals, soup kitchens and aged-care homes, so there is plenty to keep us busy.
Other highlights of the year so far have included attending Sunday Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, as well as hosting the Bishops of Victoria and Tasmania at the seminary for our bi-annual Trustees Mass and Dinner. Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart was the principal celebrant for this occasion, with Bishop of Sandhurst Les Tomlinson the homilist.
Another highlight on the calendar included our annual family day, which took place on Sunday, March 18. This provided an opportunity for students to invite family and friends to the seminary to enjoy a meal and each other’s company. It was like a big picnic, with family and friends bringing food to share with everyone. It was a wonderful occasion!
The Sandhurst seminarians have also had the privilege of spending a week working in the Sandhurst Diocese for Holy Week.
This included spending time with Bishop Les Tomlinson, as well as attending the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral and meeting with the priests of the Diocese afterwards.
Another item on the itinerary included Mass with the Bendigo Serra Club at the Cathedral and the seminarians running a workshop for secondary school students at the ‘Ablaze Youth Day’ in Shepparton, which took place as part of the ‘Year of Youth’ celebrations.
The Sandhurst seminarians concluded their Holy Week experiences in the Diocese by helping with the Easter liturgies in parishes across the Diocese.
I helped in Wodonga parish, DJ Suguitan (fifth year) assisted at the Cathedral, Nathan Verallo (sixth year) was at Shepparton, and Deacon Dean Bongat (seventh year) was at St Kilian’s Parish, Bendigo.
We resume our academic studies on Monday, April 9, when Term Two begins.
Please keep us in your prayers and, if you think of it, feel free to suggest to us any ‘ripper’ Aussie slang!

 Caption: Jackson Saunders, with his father Damien (middle), enjoying family day and discussing some ‘Aussie Slang’ during the day at the seminary with Melbourne seminarian, Jude Johnson.

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