Having received an invitation to visit Indonesia in June in the Australian winter, it was both a pleasure and a shock on arrival in July; pleasure in the hospitality of the friars, teachers and students and shock at the rather severe weather. The food was good but different in that I found it hard to accept the sweet, spicy dishes but I was very careful.
The idea of running or organizing a seminary/school these days is something very highly commendable. Especially with boarding students, it is a huge concern (there are only a very few Catholic boarding schools now in Australia). It is evident that the co-operation of the teachers and students is great. Of course, the BIG recurring thing is finance and I am sure that this is a big worry. We in Australia spend quite some money on vocations work even though our Postulants mainly enter some years after leaving school. Here you have a ready-made reservoir of possibilities with the Seminary and I think that the financials are more than adequate to meet the needs.
As regards English teaching, the class I had seemed very good at grammar and syntax. It would be good if they had more chance for conversational English, without the fear of making mistakes (virtually every one in Australia makes some sort of mistakes in spoken English!). I guess there is the emphasis on academic English and getting marks. It is the great extra benefit if the student feels somewhat confident in speaking English (writing down one’s ideas at first is a great help).
Finally, as this has been a first step. I hope and pray that there may be a very friendly and helpful exchange of friars and ideas, perhaps initially for short periods.
It was a most rewarding experience for me.
Br. Gerard O’Brien OFMCap.