Rev John Lovell
Born in Sydney in 1958, I was the youngest of three children, and had a traditional Catholic upbringing, attending Catholic Schools and Mass every Sunday.
After leaving school in 1975 I worked in office jobs, mainly accounting roles, for most of my working life. I never married, travelled extensively overseas and pretty much kept my faith intact except for a few years in the early 1990s when I gave up regular Mass attendance before coming back to it with a deeper understanding and faith commitment.
Unlike many other men who aspire to the priesthood or religious life, I was never an altar boy and as a young man, despite a strong belief in the Christian God, felt no attraction to the priesthood, though I admired those who could give up their lives to serve the church in ministry or as missionaries overseas.
It was only around 2010 at age 52 that I began to feel a definite calling to the priesthood. But for some time I quashed my sense of a calling, as I didn’t know any late vocations and had doubts the Church would accept anyone of my age.
However, by 2012 I could resist the call no longer and so my first step was to approach the Vocations Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney, whose initial response was encouraging, but a couple of days later he rang and advised me I couldn’t be accepted as I was deemed too old. Then, when I rang Catholic Oz Vocations, a friendly Josephite nun on hearing about my interest put me in touch with Fr Brian Mascord, Vocations Director of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, who was very interested and immediately invited me to come and visit him for a chat. The following year I moved home from Sydney to Newcastle and spent a year engaged in further discernment and voluntary pastoral activities until in September 2014 I was sent over to Rome to begin a 4-year course at the Beda Pontifical College.
The Beda College is a seminary located opposite to St Paul’s Basilica Outside the Walls, on the southside of Rome, and caters specifically for preparing older men (late vocations) for the Catholic priesthood.
I must say it was a surreal experience at first as I’d never stepped inside a seminary before in my life and the program was going to be a reasonably busy one. The student body was very multi-cultural with men from: England, Ireland, Scotland, India, Canada, Norway, South Africa, Tanzania, Malaysia and Australia. On the whole it was a great experience and I have to take my hat off to the Rector, formation staff, visiting lecturers and fellow students for their dedication and commitment.
Upon returning to Australia on the completion of my final year of studies in June 2018, I was appointed by Bishop Bill Wright as the parochial deacon for the Chisholm region of parishes (around Maitland). This has given me opportunities to assist Frs Joyce Sebastian, Camillus Nwahia and our Parish Priest Fr Paul O’Neill (recently returned from his sabbatical) along with our local retired priests (Frs Lex Levey and Maurie Cahill) in regular Masses, plus baptise dozens of infants, preside at funeral services, give homilies, visit schools and aged care centres, and assist at parish meetings and youth group functions. Its been a really rich and fulfilling time for me and I’ve been amazed by the way everyone has welcomed me and the commitment of not only the clergy but also the office staff and parish teams to their various ministries. I can really see the Spirit of the Lord working in and through all these wonderful people. I feel privileged and am really thankful for the opportunity to be part of all this.
Rev Anthony Coloma
Originally from the Philippines, I received my Bachelor of Secondary Education focusing in English Literature in the late 90s. I worked with the Leasing subsidiary of the Bank of the Philippine Islands for four years providing marketing assistance, customer relations and accounting support. I then joined the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus. I did my Philosophy and Theological studies at the Ateneo de Manila University, a Jesuit-run higher educational institution.
Before receiving Bishop Wright’s instruction to move to Newcastle in November 2016, I was studying for a Master of Education in Leadership and Management at the De La Salle University, Manila.
I settled in the Merewether-Hamilton area and have been in St Benedict's Parish as a Religious Assistant, Secretary of the Parish Pastoral Council and a Scripture Teacher at Hamilton South Public School.
I was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Bill Wright at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday, 24 June 2018.
For the duration of my diaconate, I have:
- officiated and solemnised weddings
- christened children
- taught Scriptures in Hamilton South Public School
- preached at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, St Joseph’s at the Junction, St Mary’s at the Hill, Tighes Hill, Broadmeadow, Cardiff
- led Liturgies at St Joseph’s and Holy Family Primary Schools
- visited the sick at John Hunter and at the Mater and the senior community at the Anglicare
- engaged the growing Filipino community in organising Filipino Catholic liturgies and devotions
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve in the Diocese. Without the kind generosity of Bishop Bill and, the then Vocations Promoter, Bishop Brian, I do not think I would reach this side of the globe. I am deeply grateful too to St Benedict’s Parish, headed by Fr Andrew, for welcoming me in their midst — warts and all.
My ordination to priesthood is an affirmation of what I have reckoned in prayer. I have been grippingly convinced that God called me into this ministry to serve God’s people. I can only give my all to whatever, wherever, and whoever God sends me to.