Last year Joshua and fellow Oblate seminarians and priests found themselves developing new communication skills as they endeavoured to maintain contact with Melbourne parishioners who, like them, were in an extended lockdown.
“Myself and some of the other priests pretty much ordered a whole bunch of stuff from Amazon to set up our little film studio and started filming a whole lot of communications to send out so that people had some sort of spiritual nourishment during those lockdown times,” Joshua said.
“We set up livestreaming from our seminary chapel so people could watch Mass daily and that made me interested in this kind of work.
“Through my thesis I am now researching how to create a digital missiology for the Church to learn how the Church can understand its mission in the digital world.
“I look at some of my friends and their whole lives are lived through digital means – they shop online, they date online, they communicate online so it really is a massive aspect of our lives today and if we’re not bringing the gospel into that realm I think we are missing a massive opportunity.”
Born and raised in Adelaide, Joshua, 30, was due to come back to his home parish of Tea Tree Gully last month to celebrate a major milestone on his journey to becoming an Oblate priest. He and fellow Brother Luan Ha from Vietnam were scheduled to make their perpetual vows at St David’s Church on July 24, however this was postponed due to the lockdowns in South Australia and Victoria.
Oblate seminarians take the temporary vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and perseverance at the end of their novitiate year and then renew the vows every year. Toward the end of their formation they make their perpetual vows for life.
Studying law and international studies after finishing high school, Joshua has spent time with the United Nations in South Africa working with refugees and in 2019 volunteered for a pilot project for youth evangelisation at Lourdes, France.
Now in his final year of study at the seminary, he hopes to be ordained to the diaconate at the end of the year and then to the priesthood in the middle of 2022, continuing his focus on evangelisation.
“Over the years I’ve come to understand more and more the charism of the Oblates, that we are a missionary Order and I think that is a very big part of who I want to be,” he said.
“I definitely feel called to stay here in Australia and help the Church here that is greatly in need, and I think the charism of our Order allows me to bring something different. The whole missionary aspect is something I hope that I can share with the wider Church, particularly the lay people I hope to work with so they also understand that they are missionary.
“It’s very much what Pope Francis is talking about … that the whole Church understands its missionary nature and that we are called to go out, serve and to preach and that can happen these days in so many different ways.”
As he enters the “home stretch” before becoming a priest, Joshua has some sage advice for young men who might be discerning a vocation to the priesthood.
“As an Oblate my advice would be to find out the difference between the priesthood and Religious life and understand how different charisms in the church speak to different people.
“We are all called to something so we need to listen deep in our hearts what God is calling us to. Find other people, a community to be part of that allows you to do the best of what God is calling you to do.”