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Adelaide feels like home


Having spent nearly all her life in the northern hemisphere, Canadian liturgist Dr Simone Brosig is feeling a sense of familiarity as she makes her new home in Adelaide and takes on a leadership role with the Pastoral Services Team.

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While it may not exactly be a homecoming, Simone Brosig says there has always been a bit of Australia inside her.

Born in Gosford, NSW, she was only three years old when her German-born parents decided that after 24 years in Australia they would emigrate to Calgary, Canada.

“With my parents having lived here for so long there were a lot of things about Australia that were a part of my upbringing,” the Archdiocese’s new pastoral leader for Community Life and Worship told The Southern Cross.

“I understand a lot of things people say here, like ‘sing out if you need something’. The only person who said that in Canada was my Dad!

“I see people here wearing jumpers that look like what my Mum used to knit and I didn’t see any of those in North America – and Mum would call it a jumper, not a sweater.

“As soon as I moved here I started going to the German Mass at St Bonifatius (Collinswood) and I hear people speaking Australian English with a German accent. They sound like my parents, which makes me feel at home.”

Simone said while she had always wanted to experience life in Australia as an adult, she never realised that meeting Dr Jenny O’Brien, from the Office of Worship, at a conference in 2019 would lead to a move to Adelaide.

At the time Jenny outlined that she would be retiring in a few years and suggested Simone might want to apply for the position. When the job advertisement lobbed in her inbox last year, she decided to put her ‘hat in the ring’ and see what happened.

“I quite like living in a new place, meeting new people, learning a new way of doing things and of course, I had this family history of Australia and I wanted to experience it for myself.

“So I decided to let things unfold.”

With her elderly mother sadly dying a few months ago, Simone said she was able to accept the position and start a new chapter in her life.

She comes to the Archdiocese having spent the previous 12 months working in Chicago as an editor for Liturgy Training Publications, an agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and prior to that was the Liturgy consultant for the Diocese of Calgary for more than a decade.

“Adelaide is about the same size as Calgary and the Archdiocese is also about the same size and has a lot of similar pastoral situations,” she said.

“This new role is about building capacity of pastoral leaders at the parish level with a focus on evangelisation and discipleship and I think that is really exciting.

“My strategy initially is that I want to get out and meet the people, meet with the parishes, the liturgy teams or parish councils if they have them, and just hear from them. Find out what they need from Community Life and Worship, what kind of resources, support, formation?”

Simone’s faith and passion for liturgy and ministry has been nurtured by her extensive studies over the years.

“I did not grow up Christian or Catholic, but I always had an interest in knowing God,” she explained.

“I was studying medieval history and I came to know Christianity through medieval mystics specifically…and began focusing on spirituality and ritual.

“I was eventually baptised as an adult and after I finished my undergraduate degree in history I went on to continue in medieval studies at the University of Notre Dame and so that was an opportunity to deepen my study of the Catholic tradition.

“As I was there I got very involved in ministry at the basilica and realised I wanted to work in ministry. I did a master’s degree in Pastoral Liturgy and a PhD in Medieval Studies.”

At the age of 21, Simone was welcomed into the Catholic faith and she believes joining the Church at an older age has some advantages when it comes to the liturgy.

“I am not attracted to ‘one particular way’. We know the history, we know the theology and what the books are saying, what the Church is saying – so how do we implement that in our community right now?”

Simone said when it came to the liturgy she believes the focus shouldn’t be on designing a “beautiful service for a passive audience”, but rather preparing a liturgy that “invites those assembled to take their part actively in a dynamic ritual of call and response”.

“Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking the liturgy is there to entertain,” she said.

“We can easily focus so much on the liturgical ministers that we wind up undermining the ministry of the assembly if their input is not required.

“If you put ‘Amen’ on the screen then is it any longer authentic? If the Psalmist sings the response every time, why should the people bother? Our liturgical guidelines exist not to limit our creativity but to preserve the efficacy of the sacred drama that unfolds in the liturgy.

“Taking full advantage of the flexibility and options provided while carefully and faithfully following the structures, flow, and roles outlined by the tradition, will invite all assembled into an authentic encounter with the Divine and with one another.”

Immersing herself in all-things Australian, Simone has already purchased a kayak and is looking forward to enjoying the ocean this summer. A keen hiker, she has also started exploring the Adelaide Hills.

“I love to be surrounded by nature and soaking that in,” she said.

Proficient in English, French and German, she is also devoting time to learning Portuguese.

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