Vincentian Chaplaincy

School Chaplaincy

The Vincentians have been in St Stanislaus College Bathurst for over 130 years.  It is a Catholic boys’ School with over 500 students, of whom 100 are boarders. While the Vincentians no longer administer the school on a day to day basis, the Vincentians maintain an active and supportive role in the school through the school board as well as the residence of two Vincentian priests.  The Vincentian presence is maintained by Fr Peter Reedy along with Fr Greg Walsh.  Fr Peter Reedy supports the mission of the school by his presence, his chaplaincy role, his leadership of liturgical services as well as being involved in many of the schools activities such as the Society of St Vincent DePaul Society. Over the years the school has sought to provide an education for boys from many different backgrounds: rural, city, indigenous, refugee families.  It is a joy to see young boys arriving at Stannies in year 7 grow and developed into well-educated fine young men with the ability to make a difference in our society.

Jail Chaplaincy at Bathurst Correctional Centre 

A week ago I was part of a small Bible reflection group in the jail. One guy looked to me like he was only there for the coffee and biscuit. But he stayed for the session and said something very profound about prayer. Again God had surprised me in this place of bricks and barbed wire! 

I have been a chaplain at Bathurst Jail since early in 2014 and I generally enjoy it. Most of my time is spent in showing care for the prisoners (99% men). I’m also here for the officers but in a less direct kind of way. Jails are not a traditional activity of the Congregation of the Mission like parish missions or seminaries. However, St Vincent was chaplain to the galley slaves in France and I follow in the steps of Fr Mick Walsh cm who was a jail chaplain before me.  

Some things are difficult. “Lock-ins” can be boring. It took a while to get to know the officers and to appreciate their point of view better. I found the prisoners immediately welcoming but hearing their stories can be sad or traumatising or can tempt one to despair. 

Other parts are a wonderful privilege. For example, introducing God to a man who goes to church for the first time in jail. I also love the fact that in this ministry I am part of an ecumenical and interfaith team and that we are able to show care for ‘all faiths and none’. I think any Vincentian would make a good jail chaplain.