Saturday, 6 December 2008
The Southern Cross, the newspaper of the Adelaide Archdiocese has a nice piece on the upcoming ordination of Br Mannes Tellis, who has close associations with the traditional community in Adelaide and elsewhere (having been on a pilgrimage or two amongst many other things).
I have to admit I was astounded to read that his will be the first ordination to the priesthood for the Australian Dominicans in ten years! Good to see that the Dominicans are doing what they can to promote the occasion in any case.
So here it is:
Mannes of the moment
By Marie McInerney
Brother Mannes Tellis knows the Church he is about to help lead as a newly-ordained priest is facing major change, but he has no sense of leaping onto a sinking ship.“With Christ as the captain, I think I’d rather be on this ship than any other,” the South Australian says with a quick laugh.
In fact, the first Dominican priest to be ordained in Australia in 10 years is confident about the future of the Church in Australia, despite general alarm about declining numbers of Mass-goers and priestly vocations.
“I think things are going to get smaller and a lot, perhaps, less institutionalised, and we’re probably going to have a lot of closure of churches et cetera” he says [But shouldn't we be trying to evangelise in order to turn this trend around?] from St Dominic’s Priory, Melbourne, Australia’s seminary for Dominicans [They have a seminary for one priest and one deacon to be??!]. “But I think the people who come to Mass in future will be a lot more fervent, a lot more vibrant, more vigorous in their faith than, say, in the 1950s and 1960s when many went to Mass just out of habit. [Hmm, I'm not very convinced by this line! With the exception of the charismatics, the congregations I see at novus ordo masses don't look in the least fervent to me! And actually, there is a fair amount of evidence that 1950s and 60s congregations were reasonably fervent, supported by a vigorous catholic culture. What destroyed their fervour in my view was the madness in the form of the destruction of the liturgy and promotion of dissent to doctrine that has reigned since Vatican II].
Br Mannes, whose baptismal name was Paul, will be ordained by Archbishop Philip Wilson at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral on December 20. It will be his second landmark event for the year, having been chosen also to sing the Gospel for the World Youth Day Papal Mass, sharing the altar with Pope Benedict XVI, an experience he will never forget.
The son of an Indian father and Scottish mother, Br Mannes describes himself as “South Australian through and through”. He was educated at Loreto and St Ignatius’ College, under the headship of Bishop Greg O’Kelly, and was a parishioner for many years at St Peter Claver’s at Dulwich.
It was serving at Mass for Father John Chambers that first sparked interest in joining the priesthood, inspired by the beloved parish priest’s “reverence for the Mass and the sacraments and his prayerfulness”. Br Mannes’ faith was tested when he studied a Bachelor of Arts in History, Philosophy and Theology at Flinders University. Arguments over the existence of God unsettled him and he would go to the Dominican Priory to talk to the priests, read their books, and discuss his faith. “It got me looking more for reasons, arguments for why I believe what I believe, and made me really think about what I was doing rather than blindly going along,” he remembers.
He had felt a calling to the priesthood since he was about 16 and, finally, after working at Glenside Hospital and a stint in the office of Liberal Senator Nick Minchin, he decided to join the Dominican Friars, attracted by the order’s focus on “contemplation and action”.
He joined as a postulant in 2000, did his novitiate in California, made his first profession of vows in 2001 at St Dominic’s and was ordained a deacon in 2007 by Bishop Anthony Fisher.
It has been “a long road”: eight years of formation, and four to five years of thinking beforehand. “In a sense my ordination is a culmination of a journey but a beginning of another one.”It’s also now a very unusual one among his peers, but he welcomes the opportunity to talk to people when they express surprise at the path he’s chosen. “There’s a lot of ignorance out there and many people don’t know what it entails (to have a vocation),” he says. “I guess it’s a good moment to evangelise."
Here's hoping for some traditional Dominican rite liturgy in the near future! And in fact, if you are in Adelaide over Christmas, Br Mannes' first EF Latin mass will be as celebrant at the Solemn Midnight Mass for Christmas at Holy Cross, Payneham Rd.