Preparing for Priesthood

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Preparing for Priesthood

Shammi Perera is being ordained a priest on Saturday December 8 at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart and he admits to being a bit nervous, not so much about the ordination, but about his first Mass the next day.

There will be many excited Tasmanian Catholics too as this is the first priestly ordination in the State for 10 years.

Shammi was born in 1976 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, the fourth in the family of five boys. His mother is excited to be coming to Australia for the first time and for such a great event.

Shammi’s father died in 1980 so he has relied on his mother and other family members to rear him since then.

The population of Sri Lanka is about 21 million of whom 6% are Catholics and 70% Buddhists (Australia has around 22 million with 25% Catholic and 2.5 % Buddhist). Shammi says there is a strong Catholic presence in the country with many good Catholic schools run by the Marist Brothers, Good Shepherd Sisters, de la Salle Brothers and other religious orders. He did most of his priestly training in Sri Lanka, but has also studied recently at Corpus Christi Seminary in Melbourne. He has been working hard as a deacon with Fr Brian Nichols and is looking forward to a life serving the church in Tasmania.

Shammi is busy now with a slew of preparations. He is being assisted greatly by the Cathedral parishioners and Fr Brian Nichols to organise transport and accommodation for visiting priests, seminarians, family and friends. Then there are preparations for a Sri Lankan dinner after his ordination for invited guests and refreshments for the public after his first Mass. Of course there is the liturgy itself with music, choir, booklets, seating and so on.

Shammi is most grateful for the support he’s received from his mentor Fr Brian, particularly in liturgy. Since his ordination to the Diaconate, he’s been learning to say Mass correctly, he’s increasing his confidence in preaching and has received great preparation for future pastoral work as he visits people in homes, hospitals and nursing homes. He prays with Brian and Brian has been introducing him to aspects of ‘Aussie ‘culture. Shammi feels he’s very blessed to have Brian as a companion and friend.

After Shammi’s first Mass in English on December 9 at the Cathedral in Hobart, he is returning to his homeland on December 11, to say his first Mass in Sinhala, his native tongue, on December 23 and his first Mass in Tamil on December 27. There will doubtless be plenty of accompanying celebrations in both countries.

Come and join in this most special time in the life of our Church.

Ordination is 9:30 am on Saturday December 8.
Fr Perera’s first Mass will be at 10:30 am on Sunday December 9.

Both at St Mary’s Cathedral Harrington St Hobart.