Since I began my seminary studies, various people I’ve met in Brisbane have told me that they wish I were in Brisbane because they’d like to be part of a church like the AJC. Eventually, I met a chap called Prenna who had started to suspect his own vocation for the priesthood and I realised that these folks had what I call a “Stone Soup Problem”, so called in honour of the famous fairy tale about the soup stone.
A soup stone problem is one is which a community has everything it really needs to take an agreed action, but it needs a little injection of faith to galvanise collective action. I love soup stone problems.
I invited the people who had spoken to me to a meeting and proposed to them that they work together to form a “narthex” or lay community of the AJC. They agreed to undertake the necessary work and to support Prenna in applying to to the church lead the narthex. The AJC requires that anyone taking on a public role on behalf of the church undergo background checks as well as writing essays intended to clarify their intentions in the work they are proposing to undertake. This all took some time to manage and a certain amount of money and effort on behalf of all the people involved.
This week all this effort has borne fruit. The Apostolic Council of the church approved the group’s application and announced the formation of the Saint Teresa of Àvila Narthex, the church’s second community in Australia and tenth globally.
On Sunday, I had the enormous privilege of not only announcing that to the group in Brisbane, but also of baptising and confirming some of them and formally receiving a few more into the community of the AJC. We held a Eucharist in a park next to the Brisbane river and baptised Prenna through full immersion as people fished nearby and played soccer in the park. A very public coming-out for a new church!
It has been an enormous privilege to shepherd this community into formation and to initiate several of them into our beautiful tradition. I am deeply grateful to the people of St Teresa’s for their commitment, faith, hard work, perseverance, intelligence and love. They are a remarkable group of people and I foresee great things in their work together.
I offer my continuing blessings for their work and my ongoing practical support.
There will be photos soon I hope. I’ll post again when I’ve collected some of them. There may even be a video of the baptismal moment!