Google Images

During Lent, I’ve really curtailed my Internet time. A lot of that time is spent working on some of the websites I administer, which leaves little time for blogging.

I’m working on one of those sites at present, which has given me cause to embark on a few Google image searches. Two photos jumped out at me, though they aren’t helpful to the task at hand.

One is a photo of my old friend, Fr Joe Martins, who was parish priest of West Melbourne, 2000–2006. He provided a written reference without which the seminary would not have admitted me.

The picture shows him offering Mass in the dining room of the presbytery:

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The picture accompanies an article from The Age. Barney Zwartz describes the scene:

He is leading a mid-week Mass in the presbytery sitting room. This is because workmen have occupied St Mary’s Star of the Sea, the West Melbourne church where he is parish priest. It’s a simple service for about a dozen, and the reverence is almost palpable. “God wants your life to be a divine adventure,” he tells them.

It’s easy to imagine. Fr Joe’s masses were always edifying.

Zwartz records a memorable quote from Fr Joe, which I haven’t seen before. But again, I can easily imagine Fr Joe saying it:

Liberal Catholics dislike Opus Dei for its ultra-conservatism, and traditionalists because it breaks down the clerical caste system. Before Vatican II (the 1960s reforming church council) people thought Opus Dei was too avant garde, says Father Martins; they thought laypeople working for holiness degraded the whole idea. “Since then the Church has become neighbourly and folksy, so if people want to pursue their faith they must be religious freaks.”

Fr Joe now works in Sydney, and I don’t think I’ve seen him since bumping into him during Sydney’s World Youth Day. Speaking of which, here is the other photo which jumped out at me:

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This photo was taken shortly before the papal mass at Randwick which concluded World Youth Day. Pope Benedict had just got out of his popemobile, and he was mobbed by seminarians as he approached the makeshift sacristy. Or at least, he would have been mobbed but for the barriers and security detail.

I think I’m in this picture. By which I mean, my hand is in this picture. I was near that person in the top left hand corner. Do you see her? She’s the middle-aged woman, dressed in soutane and surplice, who snuck in with the seminarians.

I’ve often wondered about her. What motivated her to dress like a seminarian and join us? Did she know that we’d get close to the pope? (None of the seminarians knew it.) Was she a sacristan and server, who wears choir dress in her parish? Or did she organise the outfit specifically for Randwick?

Maybe these questions will only be answered in eternity.

It’s funny to think that we’re now at the stage that the results of a random Google Image search can document our history!

  • Fr. John Ssema

    I was in that crowd. The seminarian holding the camera on the right. You can see my tag. That is when I kissed thepope’s ring the third time in three days…

    That woman was not dressed in a soutane. She was in her ordinary lady cloths with a brown WYD rain court for a choir group. That is a day to remember. Many blessings my brother.

    • Wow! I guess I saw the photo and simply presumed she was “in disguise,” and from there invented the memory.

      I wish I could say I was surprised by the lax security. But of course anyone who was there in Sydney must be conscious that the best laid security plans were more honored in the breach!

      Thanks for the clarification brother. I’d be a lousy court witness. I remember little, and what I do remember is fantastic. Ha ha.

  • MuMu

    In The Age article by Barney Zwartz: “A senior Australian Catholic…” proceeds to make derogatory remarks about Opus Dei. This is the cheapest, shoddiest, laziest type of newspaper reportage which is frankly a shameful ploy in criticising someone or something but you can’t find anyone with the guts to own the opinion. These inserts should always be disregarded as a kind of hearsay – not worth the screen they’re typed on.

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