If I could compare our praying to humidity in Sydney it would mean that what Sydneysiders need to deal with is a piece of cake. However we wouldn’t say that our prayers were killing us (I have heard many times people in Sydney saying that humidity is killing them) but that it was the testing field. If Jesus is calling somebody to be a priest he gives the man the desire to be closer to him. If a seminarian isn’t called he would suffer spending so many hours in the chapel but in this way he can discover that it isn’t his way of life.
Of course the seminary is also a university course. We studied Philosophy and Theology. I must admit it was tough. Sometimes I wonder how we managed so many classes and exams. Every term we would sit ten or fifteen exams. But we handled that. If somebody struggled with a subject he could always rely of free tutoring from his classmates.
Another aspect of our seminary formation was work. There is a farm providing fresh and yummy ingredients to the kitchen, but it means that we participated in producing the stuff. Even the city boys had to learn very quickly how to attend the farm animals and how to work in the field. At times there were more or less funny incidents, like when a classmate of mine was told to go to the veggie garden to pull out the weeds. He worked very hard but he removed the good stuff leaving the weeds happy with more space to grow. The Oblate who was in charge of the garden nearly collapsed when he saw my mate standing there tired but very proud. Well, as you can guess the student didn’t get a medal for his work but from the fury reaction of the Oblate he learnt a valuable lesson, if you do something for the first time ASK first. We also were responsible for keeping the whole building, and believe me it is a big building, clean. There is also a big park around where grass keeps growing and the leaves keeps falling, giving us plenty to do. However it was an important life lesson. We didn’t get spoilt and lazy preparing to become priests but we came to value and appreciate work. I didn’t feel much different from my mates from high school who as lay students had to study at University and work a couple of jobs at the same time. The only difference was that we weren’t paid for our work but we work for our Oblate family. We learnt to be responsible for the community.
It was such a fantastic time.