Saturday, 6 December 2008

Br Mannes...


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.

6 comments:

David said...

The Dominicans send their seminarians to the Melbourne diocesan seminary and supplant their education "in house" - with the Dominican stuff.

Anonymous said...

Br Mannes is excellent and a good guy. He will make a wonderful priest.

Personally, I think he comment about ferver reflects what I tend to believe: we'll be lucky if in 100 years time the ordinary form in the vernacular constitutes the majority form of worship at all. The majority of the ferver lies in the traditional community, and, provided the traditional Mass is allowed to have its proper effect, that's where the future lies.

Terra said...

Anon - Please add a name!

I don't disagree that the trad community is where the greater fervour is. But one of the key tests of true fervour, in my view, is missionary zeal.

I can certainly see a scenario where the novus ordo largely withers away as the current 50+ generation dies out. But it will be a very sad state of affairs indeed if traddie numbers don't dramatically increase to make up for that and more.

Terra said...

PS I've met Br Mannes a few times and I'm sure he will make an excellent priest too! I'm just looking for some of that Dominican missionary fervour in the rhetoric!

But then again, maybe I'm an incorrigble optimist in thinking that now is the time for evangelisation, when really we should be bunking down to resist the barbarian hordes...

Anonymous said...

Hi, Br Mannes here, thanks for advertising the ordination.

With regard to the future, of course I believe in evangelising, in fact I mention it at the end of the interview. But we also have to face the reality that the Church will shrink, statistics show us this and we can see that in our congregations, many 50-60-70-80 yr olds and few in their 20s-40s. So that being the case the Church of the future will be smaller numerically. Yet the young Catholics I meet at various functions are usually more gung-ho about the faith than their 1960s counterparts mainly because not a few young catholics these days come back to the Church after years aways or in fact from homes that provided next to no faith formation at all. If the Church of the 1960s was so vibrant and alive why did things diminish so quickly? I think the causes are many-the revolutionary culture of the time, the change in the liturgy and the discipline of religious life are just some. These changes came about somewhat unexpectedly since real change in the Church was never really perceived before then, the insertion of St Joseph in the Roman Canon was a major change, yet to us it seems quite small.

Anyway we must live in joyful hope for the future and respond to the graces God gives us to help us to preach to the nations the saving power of Christ

God bless

Terra said...

Good to hear from you Brother, and I am certainly praying for you as you prepare for the Ordination!

I actually found another piece you wrote on the Australian Catholic Students Association website, which I was going to link to, as I liked what you said about the effect of traditional devotions, and the enthusiasm of young people at and following WYD.

In terms of the statistics, I guess my point is that just as the crash happened very quickly, so to can the revival - history shows I think that turnarounds can happen very fast if we put everything into it! But as I noted, perhaps I'm being incurably optimistic!

On the causes of the collapse, I pretty much agree with you list. I know there are different views on the pre-VII church's vigour, but my view is that if you change enough of the foundations, any structure, no matter how firm will collapse.