The Australian Region has had the pleasure of welcoming the Superior General, Fr Valdir José De Castro, and General Councillor, Br Darlei Zanon, for a canonical visit from 9-17 December, during which they had the opportunity to meet with all of the members in Australia, visit the two houses at Strathfield (Sydney) and Brisbane, and see the various apostolic activities.
They met both the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, and the Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, who is also the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Both Archbishops expressed their gratitude for the specific service provided to the Church by the Society of St Paul, while sharing their insights into the current challenges facing the Church in Australia, including the shortage of vocations.
On the weekend of 15-16 December, the members, together with Fr Valdir and Br Darlei, gathered at Strathfield for an Assembly, in which they reviewed together many aspects of their life and mission. Special consideration was given to the canonical status of the Australian Region.
On Saturday evening they were joined by the members of the Pauline Family in Sydney (FSP and PDDM) for a Vigil Mass for the Third Sunday of Advent. In his homily Fr Valdir took up the theme of joy – Gaudete – than ran through the liturgy. "For Christianity, joy is always an expression of great trust," Fr Valdir said. "The passages of the word of the Lord of this Liturgy help us to grasp the secret root of this joy and at the same time its lifeblood. The root is provided by the incontestable certitude that the Lord does not abandon his people."
He noted that "there are many challenges in the work of evangelization in Australia, in this current historical moment of trial for the Church and for Consecrated Life. This is a moment that requires of us also, the Pauline Family, an ‘heroic' witness of faith and love."
The joy permeating the liturgy continued afterwards as the Pauline Family joined Fr Valdir and Br Darlei for an Aussie bar-b-que (including grilled Kangaroo meat!) and social gathering.
The members in Australia are grateful for the visit of the Superior General and Br Darlei to the circumscription most distant (in kilometres) from the General House, but near in spirit and in heart.