A labourer sent Down Under
HIS religious order is well-known and long-established in Melbourne and Sydney and now priest Fr Anthony Riosa SSS has the job of establishing a congregation in Canberra.
The Filipino priest belongs to the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament which runs the 90-year-old St Francis Church in Melbourne’s CBD and the 67-year-old St Peter Julian Church in George St in Sydney.
The much-loved St Francis Church has 15 religious, including 12 priests, while St Peter Julian has seven religious, including two priests.
Fr Riosa arrived in Canberra on November 30 last year on a four-year visa.
He is based at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in North Belconnen and his mission is to lay the foundations for the congregation in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.
“My journey to Australia has been like a baptism of fire,” Fr Riosa said. “There has been the dry season and bushfires, hailstones and now the coronavirus pandemic.”
A religious brother for 22 years and a priest for 16 years, Fr Riosa said his experiences in Australia remind him of a book that charts the escalating Seasons of Life, namely Wonder, Hope, Love, Mystery and Faith.
Season of Wonder: “When my Provincial Superior in the Philippines asked me to consider this assignment to Australia it was tempting to say no. But allowing God’s plan for me and my congregation I bravely accepted the offer. I am convinced God has an important design in this new foundation of the congregation.”
Season of Hope: “Our congregation has communities in Sydney and Melbourne and we hope to share our charism of adoration of the Eucharist in this promising mission land.”
Season of Love: “It is an invitation and challenge to consider the culture, context, and belief of the people working in a foreign place. I have to invest greater love to manage this which acts as a good reminder that works done with an ingredient of love become lighter.”
Season of Mystery: “In this pandemic, there are realisations that somehow God is working in this chaotic situation which gives hope to our venture.”
Season of Faith: “We use our weapon of faith to see with God’s eyes how these objectives will become reality, believing in Him who is the architect and has the master plan.”
“There is always greater joy in following the Lord because He is not only the source of our vocation but knows what is right and best for us,” Fr Riosa said.
“I pray the Lord of the harvest sends more labourers to his vineyard so the glory of his Eucharistic Kingdom be proclaimed in the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.”
I am very grateful for Fr Anthony’s presence in our parish.
In these difficult times his live streamed Eucharist Adoration is particularly welcome.
Fr. Thonn was our Parish Priest at the Holy Family Parish, Panal, Tabaco City, Albay, Philippines. He was a dedicated pastor and his short stay was a big blessing. May God continue to guide and bless him. He is dearly missed!