26 years old and training to be a Catholic priest

NEWS | Tess Holgate
Monday 18 May 2015

When 12-year-old Nathan Rawlins told his school friends that he wanted to be a priest they teased, “Oh you want to be a priest? You want to be one of those paedophiles.”

Now 26, and a full time seminary student, Nathan says “it made my life a bit difficult. But with everything that was going on you [couldn’t] expect 12, 13, 14 and 15 year olds to be open minded.”

“It made me question if I was really called or if I really wanted to do it.”


Nathan Rawlins

As he looks back he says it gave him “great solidarity with people who weren’t so ‘on the in’. I got to experience what the pastoral heart of a priest should be: to align with those who may fell like the gospel is not aimed at them or those who feel abandoned by religion and society.”

When he finished school Nathan opted to study arts and teaching degrees at university, and lived in Japan on exchange instead of heading straight to the seminary. At the end of all that he says, “I was still unsatisfied.”

“The interest was persistent. For me the sense of calling only grew stronger over time,” says Nathan.

“I came back in contact with the church, and fell more and more in love with the church and with Christ. I know that this is where I want to be. I never go to bed unhappy. Some days are hard, a lot of study, but I find it fulfilling and I see myself flourishing.”

Nathan is just one of 59 students studying at Corpus Christi College in Melbourne. The college is at maximum capacity this year.

Father Brendan Lane, the Rector of the College says, “this is the last thing I expected, with the bad publicity.”

Twenty years ago there were only 20 men training to be priests at Corpus Christi. “It’s paradoxical, when you die you rise. Death and resurrection go together. God is intervening for the future, “ says Father Lane.

“People need hope. They’re going to need faith in the face of terrorism and drugs, things we can’t control. We have a message of hope and the presence of hope.”

He doesn’t credit the surge in enrolments to the popularity of Pope Francis saying, “I think young people are still making up their mind about him. I think they’re trying to understand him and what he’s about. They quote him a lot. He has an immediate influence. I even have a Pope App!”

Father Lane told Eternity that he thinks more young people are “listening to the call. Being a priest is a vocation.”

That’s certainly true for Nathan Rawlins who believes his role as priest is “to bring Christ to the people who need him most. Those who need to encounter him, those who want to, even those who don’t want to.”

“I want to be someone who brings Christ to other people.”

Image: Lawrence OP on Flickr, used under CC License.

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