By Caroline Smith and Jamie O’Brien
For seminarian John Bosco, the journey of faith has been a profound one, taking him from village life in India to studies at St Charles Seminary Guildford.
And now it will take him to the remote parts of the Kimberley in far north Western Australia.
The 30-year-old, who is originally from Hyderabad, India, will be ordained to the Diaconate for the Diocese of Broome this Friday 10 November at Applecross Parish, St Benedict’s Church by Bishop Christopher Saunders.
Growing up in a Hindu family, John says that it was the Salesian priests in his village who inspired his conversion to Christianity, reinforced by his studies at a local Catholic school.
“Our family practiced the Hindu religion until the Salesians came to our village,” John explained, in a recent interview for The eRecord, ahead of his ordination.
“My father became very good friends with the Salesian priests, he would invite them to our house, and likewise they always invited us for special occasions like Christmas and Easter,” he said.
“Our family had a very close relationship with the priests and sisters who were there.
“Fortunately, my father insisted I study at the Don Bosco School which they established for the young people and was the only institution that we had in those days.
“Through their active friendship with the families and children of the area, they attracted many people to the Church.”
He added that observing the priests’ interaction with the local community as a student was what first inspired him to consider studying for the priesthood.
“They always attracted me by their good works, especially for the poor, and I also wanted to help the poor and needy in the same way,” Mr Bosco said.
“They actually sowed a seed of vocation to the priesthood in my heart.
“When my desire became stronger to think about priesthood, I became very active at my parish, assisting the priest and visiting local houses with them, praying with the people.”
John went on to explain that the vocation and work of one priest in particular, Father Fritz Neuhauser, who guided him towards considering missionary work within the priesthood, had a significant impact on his life.
“When I first met him, he spoke to me of the importance of saving souls, and of the uniqueness of each person’s soul,” John said.
“Those words inspired me to begin my journey of formation to the priesthood and be willing to travel anywhere as a missionary.”
After beginning the path towards priesthood in 2005 John moved to Kenya in 2010 before arriving in Australia in 2013, where he continued his studies at St Charles’ Seminary.
“It’s been a great experience of studying for the priesthood.
“Being in different seminaries either in India or in Australia, I personally learnt so many things that have helped me in my life,” he said.
“I have grown in different areas academically and spiritually, which, I believe, are essential for the priesthood.
“There is lots of time to spend with the Lord in personal prayers, community prayers, and the daily Mass which helps me in discerning and strengthening my vocation to the priesthood.
“There were times when I had joyful moments and challenging moments.
“It is not that easy to be away from family and friends.
“But, this is the time where the formators and the spiritual directors play a role in our lives to help us in our journey.”
Looking to the future after his ordination, John said he hoped to continue engaging with different communities around the world.
“One important aspect of my mission is to be able to approach people of different backgrounds, especially in the Diocese of Broome,” he said.
“I am seeking, in a spirit of dialogue, to listen to the spirit speaking in their cultures and traditions.
“In this respect, my mission becomes a humble attempt to sense God’s presence and discern the working of the spirit among the people.”
“I would like to thank the Almighty God for his love, faith and gift of vocation. I thank my family who loves and encourages me always through their prayers. I express my thankfulness to Bishop Christopher Saunders who welcomed me to the diocese of Broome. I express my gratitude to the rectors and the formatters of the seminary who always helped me to reach this stage,” he concluded.