Priest Associates

(right) Columban Priest Associate, Fr Joe Ruys completes six years of mission at the parish of The Holy Angels of Huandoy, Lima, Peru, in 2012.

In 2012, Columban Fr Joe Ruys from the Archdiocese of Melbourne completed six years as a Priest Associate with the Columbans in Peru. He is one of a long line of priests from Dioceses across Australia and New Zealand who have worked with the Columban Missionaries in international countries such as Peru and Chile.

Fr Joe began his ministry in Peru in 2006 after a mandatory five-month study of the Spanish language in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Completing his Spanish course, he was assigned to the large and sprawling parish of “The Holy Angels of Huandoy” on Lima’s north side that consisted of 15 chapels and 110,000 people. He quickly inserted himself into the busy parish life.

Realising the need for continuing formation in the faith for parish pastoral leaders, Fr Joe started a three week course during the summer break and also workshops on three Sundays throughout the year.

Over 450 lay people attended the formation session which began at 11:00am and finished with lunch around 3:00pm.  Looking back over Fr Joe’s six years in Peru, one of the key aspects of his ministry was these formation programmes which helped parish lay leaders grow and mature in the knowledge and practice of their faith.

Columbans have found that working with Priest Associates such as Fr Joe, has greatly benefitted and enriched their overseas mission work. Likewise, upon completion of their overseas missionary experience and returning to their home dioceses, these priests have been able to bring much of the richness of their overseas mission experience into their ministry at home.

The Priest Associate Programme is open not only to diocesan priests but also religious priests. Priest Associates participate for a determined period of time in the life and work of the Columban Society in accordance with a specific contract that is usually for three years.

"The spiritual gift that priests have received in ordination prepares them, not for any narrow or limited mission, but for the most universal and all embracing mission of salvation ‘to the end of the earth' (Acts 1:8). For every priestly ministry shares in the universal scope of the mission that Christ entrusted to his disciples." (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 10)

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columban-fr-kelvin-barrettFr Kelvin Barrett
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