Fr Leonard to serve in Tasmania
The COVID lockdown meant that Fr Leonard Caldera OFM has had a unique introduction to Tasmania while discerning whether the Lord was calling him to serve in this archdiocese.
Fr Caldera, 46, arrived in Tasmania on March 8 – just before the pandemic caused widespread travel restrictions.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Fr Caldera says he is attracted to mission and had investigated serving in ministry in Canada as well as Australia. His connection to Tasmania was through Fr Shammi Perera, Cathedral Parish administrator and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Hobart. The two had been in seminary together in Sri Lanka.
Fr Caldera had planned to visit Tasmania and then travel back to Sri Lanka before applying for a visa. However, COVID intervened and he has instead been at the Cathedral Parish since March. Due to the border restrictions, he was able to apply for his visa from Australia.
Fr Caldera says he was ‘really excited’ when the news finally came that he had received his visa.
“Everything fell in place … It was like a sign that God [was] paving the way for me to come here. That’s one thing I believe very strongly.”
He says he is grateful to Archbishop Julian and Fr Perera that he has had the opportunity to serve in the Cathedral Parish.
“Being in the Cathedral Parish, it has helped me to really understand in what way I can contribute my talents, my capabilities, to the Church in Tasmania.”
He will have more opportunities to serve the parishioners he has come to know during the pandemic: for the present Fr Caldera has been assigned to the Cathedral Parish as an assistant priest.
He says his first impression of Tasmania was the friendliness of the people.
“Sometimes I like to go on walks because it’s a beautiful place here. And there are people [who] greet you on the streets, like, ‘Hello, how are you? Good day’ … I felt very, very welcome here,” Fr Caldera said.
“What I would like to do is really get people more active in the Church and … to have a desire for their faith and their beliefs, so hopefully I’ll – through God’s grace – be able to do that,” he said.
“That’s what I’m hoping for and praying for.”