15 Apr 2019
Seminarians on journey to priesthood
Anthony Beltrame, Blake Crossley, Joshua McDermid, EJ Ibarra and Olek Stirrat
A teacher, pharmacist and architect are the Archdiocese’s newest seminarians to be called to the vocation of the priesthood.
Blake Crossley, Joshua McDermid and Edward (EJ) Ibarra started their journey at Corpus Christi College in Melbourne earlier this year, joining fifth year students from the Archdiocese, Olek Stirrat and Anthony Beltrame.
For Blake, 32, there was no “lightning bolt moment” when he knew the priesthood was his vocation, rather it was a “persistent call of Our Lord over many years”.
“Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP gave a talk a few years ago where he spoke of the ‘OPD’, or the Order of Perpetual Discerners – those people who just keep going around in circles asking themselves if they should or shouldn’t give the priesthood a go.
“I decided I was well entrenched in this group and it was time to take the plunge,” he said.
He left his job as pharmacist and entered the Dominican Friars. After 18 months Blake had discerned that he indeed had a call to the priesthood, but not to live it out in Religious life.
Raised in Murray Bridge, Blake has been involved with the Murray Bridge, Prospect/North Adelaide and Greenacres/Walkerville parishes over the years.
While Joshua McDermid, 29, had considered the priesthood at earlier stages in his life he instead went down the path of working as a part-time youth minister with Catholic Education while studying to become a teacher. He taught for seven years, most recently filling the role of English and Literacy coordinator at Cardijn College.
However, in 2016 he began to seriously discern his earlier calling.
“It was during the pilgrimage to Krakow for World Youth Day that I became convinced the Diocesan priesthood was where God wanted me.
“I looked up to Fr Peter Zwaans, who runs the Adoremus group on a Tuesday night at the Cathedral and is now the Vocations director, and his example allowed me to see that a young man could be a Catholic priest in these modern times.”
At just 21, EJ Ibarra is the youngest of the trio. Born in the Philippines, EJ moved to Adelaide with his family in 2006 and they joined the Salisbury parish.
Last year he finished his Bachelor of Architectural Studies, and was also serving as a youth minister for Singles for Christ, where he began his discernment.
“The defining moment was when I was finally ready to accept God’s call to the priesthood – I remember it clearly, it was on the 27th of July 2017 and I am kneeling before Our Blessed Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament when I told Him I was ready.
“Suddenly I started to tear up, I couldn’t help my tears; it was tears of joy because there at that very moment I found the peace and love that my heart was longing for.”
Picture: CALL TO VOCATION: Seminarians from the Adelaide Archdiocese studying at Corpus Christi College, from left, Anthony Beltrame, Blake Crossley, Joshua McDermid, EJ Ibarra and Olek Stirrat.