Passionist priest postulant calls Hobart home

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Passionist priest postulant calls Hobart home

A priest seeking to discern a vocation to religious life is calling Hobart home for the next year as he undertakes postulancy with the Passionist community.

Fr Justin Raj, 37, has travelled from the Archdiocese of Bangalore in India to Tasmania as part of the early stages of his journey in religious life.

Ordained as a diocesan priest in 2011, this is Fr Justin’s second time in Australia, having previously spent time serving in a Passionist parish in Adelaide. He then spent several years serving in parishes in India before finally deciding to take the leap into officially discerning religious life.

His time in Hobart has seen him take on some of the duties of the busy St Joseph’s Church on Macquarie Street, celebrating Mass and hearing confessions.

The initial attraction to the priesthood came from his great-aunt, a religious sister, who would visit his family and say: “I need one vocation from your family. You have two sons!”

“My brother, he was not interested, but some of this thought … it just crept into me and I started pondering over it on my own,” Fr Justin said.

In school, his teachers would ask the class what their ambitions were, and while his classmates would say ‘lawyer’, ‘doctor’ or ‘engineer’, he would say ‘priest’.

Visits by religious communities to his school nurtured the idea – but he didn’t understand the difference between a religious and a diocesan priest.

When he was 16, he entered the minor seminary and began the path to the diocesan priesthood, finally ordained as one of 14 from his year level.

He describes the diocesan priesthood as a “beautiful ministry” as it’s close to the people and the priest is fully involved in parish ministries, but that he has an attraction towards community life and the semi-contemplative life.

Having already completed seminary studies and served as a priest for a number of years, Fr Justin says he sees this second time of formation as a “gift of God” and a “great opportunity” to learn things he missed out on in his first time of formation.

He says he is grateful for the ongoing support and prayers of Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore and the faithful of his home archdiocese.

“It’s a loving community here. I have a great admiration for the Passionist Fathers here in this community. And each one has an inspiration for me, and I think I’m in the right place to discern.”