Mission Immersion Trip 2020

Experience faith in action while working among the poor in Manila city and Bataan province in the Philippines, between 2nd and 19th January 2020. Applicants between the ages of 18-35 will be given first preference; applicants over 35 will be considered if there is availability.

For details and to express interest email: [email protected] or call 0403 843 796 or the Parish Office on 9748 6800 during Office Hours, by Sunday 30th June. The trip is hosted by the Paulist Missionaries (MSSP).


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On the 4th of January 2019, Fr Jude and I joined Fr Mario and parishioners of St John’s, Heidelberg for a Mission Immersion.

We were greeted warmly by the Paulist Missionaries and shared their hospitality, prayer life and ministry.

Initially, I was apprehensive about going with a growing fear of the unknown but this was quickly overcome by the strong bond and friendships developed during the Immersion experience and the deep desire to reach out to those in need.

The experience captured for me the inspiring ministry of the mssp community both in Manila and Bataan, other religious orders, the many lay volunteers and the Church’s outreach to the poor and marginalised.

The Immersion experience helped us understand and involve ourselves in Jesus’ mission where we came face to face with the local communities in need from Prison Ministry, visiting the squatter families in 13th Street, living in very poor conditions, engaging with the families, caring for disabled children at orphanages, assisting staff and volunteers with household and personal care, tasks such as feeding and interacting with toddlers and children.

At the Jose De Piro Centre in the mssp Parish of St Catherine of Alexandria we visited the many schools, visited parishioners and engaged in the life of the community.

Over all the experience was both challenging and confronting as well as uplifting and life-changing.  So many amazing people that we met and I feel forever changed.

The value and support of the many debrief sessions and reflection day helped me to realise that we are all brothers and sisters, empathising with the people we met, sharing their daily joy and sorrows, celebrating their richness and gifts and feeling for their pain.  I learnt as much from them, possibly more as they learned from me.

Supported throughout the experience by critical and prayerful sharing, we as a group recognised that we are all involved in taking responsibility for their reality in our global society.

Colin Bracken


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On January 3, eight Year 12 students from Thomas Carr College, Tarneit, along with Dr Andrew Watson, Principal, Mrs Geralyn McCarthy, Director of Student Services and Fr Jude Pirotta MSSP, Canonical Administrator departed Australia to participate in the College’s first mission immersion trip to the Philippines.

Our Mission Immersion Experience linked us in with the Missionary Society of St Paul (MSSP) the religious congregation that our Parish Priest and Canonical Administrator, Fr Jude Pirotta, belongs to. Our time away provided the opportunity for our students to experience the Paulist charism of missionary service and challenged us to live out of the call of its founder, Servant of God Joseph De Piro, to challenge injustice and division, and to encounter Christ in all who are poor, marginalised and disadvantaged.

While in the Philippines, we were graciously welcomed and hosted by the brothers and priests from the MSSP International House of Formation (the Paulist Seminary) from the parish of St Catherine of Alexandria in Dinalupihan, Bataan and by Sr Kate O’Neill RNDM, the Director of the Kuya Center for Street Children in Manila. We were engaged in a range of service projects, pastoral visits, faith formation and educational activities. We worked in orphanages, visited the poor and sick in their homes, and facilitated a range of workshops for the local children. It was a demanding and strenuous schedule as we were determined to make the most of this opportunity. As a team, we set aside time before, during and after the journey, reflecting intentionally upon all that we had encountered through debriefing, discernment and particularly through prayer, ensuring that we had time to embrace and process all that we had encountered.

It was particularly inspiring to witness the selfless and noble ways in which many religious communities minister to the marginalised and impoverished people in the Philippines. This is indeed a church which ‘steps outside of herself’ and provides our young people with a new vista through which to see the work of the universal church.

For many of us, this was also a deeply confronting time. Witnessing the stark divide between the world’s rich and poor and the enormity of abject poverty and alienation for the first time can be overwhelming. As Christian sojourners, we lived and entered into relationship with people who suffer beyond what we can imagine, and this renders us vulnerable. Paradoxically, herein lay our real transformation: the realisation that we ourselves are wounded, and that it is precisely this woundedness that binds us all together as the members of the Body of Christ. By entering into solidarity with others, we can no longer look with indifference at the divisions that distort the oneness of Christ’s Body. Our lives will never be the same again.

While in Manila, our group had the great fortune to again meet Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila.  Cardinal Tagle had visited Thomas Carr College in 2014 whilst in Australia. The Cardinal spent just on 90 minutes with us engaging in a wide-ranging conversation about our visit and some of his work as Archbishop of Manila and as President of Caritas International. It was indeed a great privilege to meet a man of such humility who welcomed us generously into his home.

The true challenge of course is what happens now that we have returned. If our passion and desire fade away into ‘feelings of vague compassion or shallow distress’, the value of our experience is lost. This mission immersion trip should be only the beginning of the relationship, not the culmination. Thank you to the MSSP for this opportunity ‘to take the path of ‘craziness’ of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbours who feel abandoned… to take the path of our God, who encourages us to be politicians, thinkers, social activists.’ Pope Francis, World Youth Day Vigil with Young People, July 30 2016


Next weekend (17/18 Feb), after all Masses, Year 12 students who attended this Mission Immersion, will be addressing us on their experience. It will be an opportunity to share in this life changing experience.


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