Australia: February 15

Today saw a mixture of appearances and talks at different places.

Fr. Fernando Montano was a Guadalupe seminarian studying in Hong Kong in the 1990s and I was his spiritual director. He followed me in the deaf ministry there and then was assigned to Australia to work with the Chinese community there. I learned he was in the area I was visiting this week and after the Ash Wednesday service, he picked me up and I spent the night at his rectory in Castle Hill.
In the morning our first stop was St. Andrew’s College where I spoke to grades 11 and 12.
Today I was led by Sr. Louise McKeogh, a Salesian Sister. After talking at the school, we stopped at her office to check phone calls and e-mails.


We also ran by a youth center the Salesians run. Another of the Salesians showed us around the center, closed today while the bathrooms were being renovated.
At all the schools, we were required to enter our name and other information into a program that logs all visitors to the schools as part of a safeguarding program. A small label printer immediately prints out an adhesive name badge with photo that visitors wear while on the campus.
Our stop in the afternoon was at McCarthy Catholic College in Emu Plain, NSW where I spoke to two groups about Cambodia.
The talks at McCarthy Catholic College were repeatedly interrupted by announcements from the principal who kept the staff and students advised about the progress of bush fires burning in the area. When we left the school two helicopters were waterbombing fires on the hillside.
Sr. Louise drove me to the diocesan center in Broken Bay,the neighboriing diocese, and handed me over to Ms. Cristina Gomez, the Diocesan Director for Caritas Australia there. She was to be my guide for the next few days.