Corpus Christi College, the regional seminary for Victoria and Tasmania, is now home to eight new seminarians, the largest single intake since 2017. With the academic year soon to begin, we spoke with two of the first-year seminarians—Luke Kennedy and Mathews Noble—about how and why, through patience, perseverance and prayer, they’ve decided to say ‘yes’ and follow God’s calling.

Vocation became almost inevitable

The youngest of three children, Luke Kennedy grew up in the south-west suburb of Point Cook. He says his parents were ‘very faithful’ and ‘were graced with gifts that allowed them to hand on that faith to all of us children’.

‘I am lucky that they have all been very supportive of me and my decision to trust God and test the call to priesthood,’ he says.

Despite their support, the decision to join the priesthood did not come easy, Luke says, and ‘was one of great difficulty’.

‘I have worked in multiple areas, such as hospitality, youth ministry and as an electrician,’ he says. ‘However, the thought of being a priest developed into a persistent idea that I could not shake away.’ Luke says he experienced both excitement and fear as he considered the idea, ‘but slowly the realisation of a vocation became almost inevitable.’

‘God was patient and knew his timing, so much so that when I had decided to enter, I felt nothing but peace and excitement. The closer I have gotten, the more I can recognise God’s graces and my own gifts. I think that getting closer to God means becoming more myself, and I certainly feel that now.’

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From left to right: Fr Cameron Forbes (Rector, Corpus Christi College), Mathews Noble, Joseph Maae, Rohan Prince, Patrick Harris, Tung Phan, Chinh Tran, Luke Kennedy, Fr Dishan Candappa (Vocations Director), Luke Emslie, Fr Anil Mascarenhas (Assistant Vocations Director). (Photo courtesy of Corpus Christi College.)

Luke’s faith was nurtured within the family and developed over time through conversations, prayer and ‘an addiction to Word on Fire YouTube videos and good books’, he says. He cites CS Lewis, Pope Benedict XVI and Graham Greene as the most influential authors in his life. ‘Each in their own way reflects a flicker of what it means to understand God and his creation. Reading them builds up a desire in me to go deeper into a mysterious life with God.’

But it’s Luke’s father who gets credit for being ‘a pillar in my understanding of God and faith’.

‘He is very intelligent and has a brilliant ability to teach with clarity,’ Luke says. ‘Many dinnertime conversations went into the late hours as we discussed the life of faith and the world.’

God was patient and knew his timing, so much so that when I had decided to enter, I felt nothing but peace and excitement.

‘My advice for those discerning is to be calm but vigilant. Discernment must be taken with patience and trust in God’s timing. But you must also be ready to act and say “yes” when he decides to rest in your heart. Dedication to a good and holy life is absolutely necessary to being prepared. Don’t let him catch you sleeping or with no oil in your lamp.’

Luke describes himself as a self-taught guitarist and pianist, and when he’s not playing or making music, he loves reading, playing board games and tennis, or attending pub trivia.

What he’s most looking forward to about seminary life is learning more about God and the Church. ‘Especially from an academic point of view, but also from a prayer and devotional angle,’ he says. ‘I think the opportunity to share prayer with others who believe in a common calling will bear much fruit for us and Melbourne.’

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Luke Kennedy speaks with Fr Daryl Montecillo upon arrival at the seminary. (Photo courtesy of Corpus Christi College.)

She will bring you closer to Jesus

Mathews Noble was born in India and migrated to Australia at the age of eight with his parents, and his brother and sister. They settled in Dandenong, and St Gerard’s Catholic Church became their local parish.

‘Growing up, my parents were the main influences on my faith. They took me to regular Mass and the sacraments, and ensured that we prayed the Rosary daily as a family,’ he explains. ‘I was also blessed to have known some very good parish priests, some of whom I got to know well during my years as an altar server.’

Mathews went on to study medicine at Monash University and has been working as a doctor since 2020. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cycling and spending time with family.

Particularly in the last couple of years, I started to grow in devotion to the Blessed Mother, and she was the one who transformed my faith into one of real love for Jesus.

He says the last two years of discernment have naturally brought up a range of emotions. ‘Initially there was some apprehension about the prospect of joining. However, that has gradually been replaced by trust in the Lord,’ Mathews says. ‘There were moments of joy, anxiety, impatience and everything in between.’

‘Now I would say that I mostly feel a sense of peace,’ he reflects. Mathews says he is inspired by the lives of the saints but that it was the Blessed Virgin Mary who helped him most as he was discerning life as a priest.

‘The single most important influential person in my faith life would have to be the Blessed Virgin Mary … particularly in the last couple of years, I started to grow in devotion to the Blessed Mother, and she was the one who transformed my faith into one of real love for Jesus.’

‘I think discernment is a gradual process that is unique for everyone, but if you don’t know where to start, then I would suggest trying to grow in devotion to the Blessed Mother. She will bring you closer to Jesus, who is ultimately the One who calls.

‘I would also suggest trying to spend time regularly in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and frequenting the sacraments. These were the times that I felt the most drawn towards the priesthood.’

He also suggests reaching out to the vocations director or assistant vocations director for guidance at any stage of your discernment, and ‘speaking with priests that you trust’.

‘And if you are someone who likes to read, I highly recommend the book The Priest Is Not His Own by the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

The next seven years of study and pastoral formation will be markedly different from a life in medicine, but Mathews says he is looking forward to being deeply involved in ‘the sacramental and pastoral life of the Church’ and learning more about the faith ‘in all its dimensions’—whether it be spirituality, philosophy, theology, Church history or Scripture. ‘Everything seems interesting,’ he says.

Not only that, but Mathews says he feels a sense of excitement at having his brother seminarians ‘as a source of mutual support, friendship and inspiration’.

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Mathews Noble speaking with fourth-year seminarian Gregory Lewis. (Photo courtesy of Corpus Christi College.)

Banner image: Archbishop Peter A Comensoli meets this year’s first-year seminarians, accompanied the vocations directors and rector of the seminary. (Photo courtesy of Corpus Christi College.)