Seminarians settle into Aussie way of life

By Catherine Sheehan

Despite having only arrived in Australia from Sri Lanka three months ago, seminarian Ashan Peiris said he had already found Aussies to be “very welcoming people”.

“I like that everyone smiles in the morning and says ‘good morning’,” he said. “I really love that, because I love to always smile myself,” he added.

Arriving in Australia on 16 June, Ashan has joined the Archdiocese of Hobart and is currently completing his seminary studies at Corpus Christi College in Melbourne.

Even though he completed seven years of seminary studies in Sri Lanka, he will undertake ‘refresher’ courses in Melbourne before beginning parish ministry in Hobart.

Originally from the city of Panadura in Sri Lanka, Ashan had been studying computer-based accounting at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura when he discerned a call to the priesthood.

Ashan joined the Archdiocese in June and is currently completing his seminary studies at Corpus Christi College in Melbourne. Photo: Josh Low

“It was an experience which I can’t explain… I had the strong feeling that I need to choose this path of priesthood.”

Even though he finds the culture in Australia very different to that in Sri Lanka, Ashan said he knew God had brought him here for a reason.

“In my prayer I reflect upon why God has chosen for me to come here and how I can evangelise.”

He said that his aim in pursuing the priesthood was to “do little things with much love”.

Ashan has joined fellow Sri Lankan Yohan Wickramasekara, also a seminarian for the Hobart Archdiocese, at Corpus Christi College.

Yohan arrived in July last year and is currently undertaking second year seminary studies. He considers it something of a miracle that his visa application was granted less than an hour after his nomination was approved.

“I can’t even understand how it happened. It’s God’s hand,” he said.

Yohan said he had felt called in the direction of the priesthood by the time he completed his secondary schooling at St Sebastian’s College Moratuwa, in the district of Colombo.

Arriving in July last year, Yohan is currently undertaking second year seminary studies at Corpus Christi College Seminary. Photo: Supplied

After spending some time living in a Benedictine monastery as a professed monk, Yohan discerned that he was better suited to the ministry of a diocesan priest.

After leaving the monastery he completed a degree in Sociology and a masters degree in Education, before working as an assistant lecturer at the University of Colombo.

He also completed a masters degree in Christian studies at University of Kelaniya.

Upon arriving in Tasmania in July last year, Yohan spent eight months on pastoral placement in the Sandy Bay Parish before taking up his studies in Melbourne.

Yohan said he felt grateful to be in Australia as part of the Archdiocese of Hobart.

“It’s a beautiful place and I feel so blessed to be here. I’m so grateful to Archbishop Julian for all the initiatives he has taken on my behalf. I’m very happy to be in Hobart. It’s one of the most beautiful dioceses in all of Australia.”

Tags: News, Vocations