Home » Archbishop » Synod on the Family blog » On the Road Together – Entering the mysteries

On the Road Together – Entering the mysteries

"It's time for the fray as we enter the mysteries - and even the muddle - of the vocation of the family in the world of today. St Paul, pray for us!"
Connect with Archbishop Mark Coleridge:

With the sun shining brightly on the free day, I decided to head to the Beda College for lunch. I have a student for the priesthood there, Brendan Gormley, and wanted to touch base with him. I also wanted to meet the new Rector, Fr Philip Gillespie, a priest of Liverpool whose last gig was Dean of the Isle of Man (beat that!). His predecessor Monsignor Rod Strange is a great old friend of mine, and I’ve had a lot to do with the Beda over the years, even teaching there for a time. So I wanted to meet the new man from Man and continue my happy connection with the College.

The Beda is right across the road from St Paul’s outside the Walls, so I decided to combine my visit to the College with a pilgrimage to the tomb to St Paul, imploring him to give us a hand with this Synod. St Paul’s stirs me a little more than the other three patriarchal basilicas (St Peter’s, St John Lateran, St Mary Major), and I’m a huge fan of the Apostle whose tombstone the great church is. Paul was a master, perhaps the originator of what I’ve called pastoral creativity and apostolic imagination. And he stands as a model of the kind of leadership to which the bishops are called at this Synod – faithful to the past, able to read a messy present, unafraid of the future, unperturbed by controversy, passionately focused on Jesus crucified and risen who stands beyond all ideology and politics.

I spent a large part of our free day at or near St Paul's outside the Walls. Here's the wonderful atrium and facade with St Paul in the middle of it all - teacher of the nations and preacher of the truth.

I spent a large part of our free day at or near St Paul’s outside the Walls. Here’s the wonderful atrium and facade with St Paul in the middle of it all – teacher of the nations and preacher of the truth.

Inside the Basilica with the great apse illuminated for Mass. This church, built over the tomb of St Paul, has something the other patriarchal basilicas don't.

Inside the Basilica with the great apse illuminated for Mass. This church, built over the tomb of St Paul, has something the other patriarchal basilicas don’t.

Through the grill you can see the sarcophagus of St Paul who was buried in Lavinia's vineyard after his execution. I knelt here and prayed, entrusting the Synod to his apostolic intercession. As I prayed, I was conscious of wearing the pectoral cross of my predecessor in Brisbane, Archbishop Frank Rush, who said his first Mass at this altar. Pray for us, Frank.

Through the grill you can see the sarcophagus of St Paul who was buried in Lavinia’s vineyard after his execution. I knelt here and prayed, entrusting the Synod to his apostolic intercession. As I prayed, I was conscious of wearing the pectoral cross of my predecessor in Brisbane, Archbishop Frank Rush, who said his first Mass at this altar. Pray for us, Frank.

After my mini-pilgrimage to Paul’s tomb, I met the new Rector of the Beda whom I expected to be a much older-looking man. I thought he was one of the students. But I discovered that, despite his fresh face, he has the glorious title of Canon. We need some of them in Australia, I thought, and I reminded the Rector that there was once an Anglican clergyman Down Under named Canon Ball. So perhaps we’d better stick to Monsignor. After drinks in the garden and a very pleasant lunch, during which there was not a word about the Synod, I returned to Maria Bambina for a reposeful afternoon.

In the early evening, I decided to stroll across the river to the English College where I’d arranged to meet Fr Andrew Chase, a priest of Rockhampton studying theology at the Gregorian University. Off we went to a bar I like on the Piazza Farnese, one of the best of all Rome’s piazzas with the very grand Palazzo Farnese (now the French Embassy) looming over it. I thought I had escaped the ecclesiastical village for a bit, but no: there arrived two Kiwis, Cardinal Dew and Sharron Cole, who’s an auditor at the Synod. But they soon moved on and we went for a pizza at a bustling place just around the corner. They were of course going somewhere much flasher.

I just happened to be having an aperitivo at a bat in Piazza Farnese with Fr Andrew Chase of Rockhampton when up lobbed these two Synod Kiwis - Cardinal John Dew and the remarkable Sharron Cole who's an auditor. Couldn't resist a photo in the evening light with the Palazzo Farnese in the background.

I just happened to be having an aperitivo at a bar in Piazza Farnese with Fr Andrew Chase of Rockhampton when up lobbed these two Synod Kiwis – Cardinal John Dew and the remarkable Sharron Cole who’s an auditor. Couldn’t resist a photo in the evening light with the Palazzo Farnese in the background.

At the end of a laidback day off, here I am having a prosecco at a bar I like on the Piazza Farnese. I was with Fr Andrew Chase from Rockhampton who's studying here and lives at the English College just around the corner from this bar. The shot was taken by the Kiwis who bombed in on us as they headed for the Campo de'Fiori nearby.

At the end of a laidback day off, here I am having a prosecco at a bar I like on the Piazza Farnese. I was with Fr Andrew Chase from Rockhampton who’s studying here and lives at the English College just around the corner from this bar. The shot was taken by the Kiwis who bombed in on us as they headed for the Campo de’Fiori nearby.

Back to Maria Bambina I trudged to have an early night before we resume the fray this morning. All today we’re in the small groups, trying to come to grips with Part II of the much maligned working document. If our work on the briefer and more preliminary Part I is any guide, this will be even more like Jacob wrestling with the angel. Like him, we’ll probably come away limping. But it’s time for the fray as we enter the mysteries – and even the muddle – of the vocation of the family in the world of today. St Paul, pray for us!

Connect with Archbishop Mark Coleridge:
Scroll to top