31 Jul 2012
"At age 42, I have finally found what I was made for," he says.
On Saturday, 4 August, Sam will be one of eight seminarians to be ordained into the priesthood by Cardinal Pell. Four including Sam trained for the priesthood at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Homebush while the other four to be ordained studied at the Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary of the Neocatechumenal Way at Chester Hill.
Those who will be ordained as priests this weekend are Samuel Lynch - to give his full name - Michael Lanzon, Ioane Epeli Qimaquima, and Phan Dinh Nguyen from the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, and Allan Casquejo, Novin Dias, Pasquale Pizzoferro and Pierluigi Passoni from the Redemportis Mater Seminary.
Established in 2003, the Chester Hill seminary is Australia's newest seminary and Saturday will mark only the second time its seminarians have completed their studies and been ordained into the priesthood. Last year was the first.
"We are grateful to all people who arrive at this point of being able to bear fruit in the form of missionary priests," says Fr Eric Skruzny, Rector of the Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary.
Since 2009, 15 men have been ordained as priests by His Eminence Cardinal Pell, with this number increasing to 23 when the eight due to be ordained on Saturday are added. The figure expands to 25 with the two Ugandan-born seminarians from the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, who chose to be ordained by the Archbishop of Kampala in their homeland in July 2010, before returning to Australia as parish priests on loan to the Sydney Archdiocese.
Those entering Sydney's two seminaries to study for the priesthood have also seen a steady increase over the past four years with 60 seminarians currently in training.
"The seminary is a different experience for each person," Sam says. "I entered late in life and I have to say it was an enormous privilege to be with so many young men who are on fire with love of God and seeking to do His will in their lives. You become very close to the guys in the seminary and I am certainly closest to those who entered with me. We have become firm friends and they are like brothers to me."
The youngest of four children by 10 minutes - "I have a twin brother" - Sam grew up in a devout Sydney Catholic family.
"I would never have even considered the priesthood without the example of my mother," he insists. "Her faith in God was so strong and she passed this on through quiet example. She was always totally interested in each of her children but she never pried. She really was a saint."
Sadly his mother, who brought up her four children following the unexpected death of their father when Sam, the youngest was just six, did not live long enough to see her son ordained a priest.
Educated at Our Lady of Fatima Primary, Kingsgrove and Christian Brothers High School, Lewisham, Sam says the idea of the priesthood first occurred to him when he was 13 or 14 after an old boy returned to the school to say Mass.
The thought was left at the back of his mind until his time at the University of Sydney where he was studying for a Bachelor of Arts.
"In my final year I considered going into the seminary, but ultimately felt I lacked the maturity to commit my life to the vocation. I was young and restless and in those days tended not to stick at things," he says.
But this began to change after meeting people at University who were involved with Opus Dei. "They helped me a great deal in terms of growing up," he says. Later living and working at Warrane College, the residential college at the University of NSW, Sam says solid formation in his Catholic faith took him beyond his school years.
However it was still some years before his vocation became clear to Sam and he pursued a career in publishing and books. This led to a job with the Church as business manager for one of its smaller agencies. As part of his job, he was sent to World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne to help prepare for World Youth Day in Sydney three years later and it was there he attended a catechesis given by Bishop Anthony Fisher which he says changed his life.
"He preached about moral relativism and the lack of commitment in people's lives today. Immediately I felt a great interior freedom and found myself asking "what is stopping me? Why don't I respond to this call?"
He did and seven years later, Sam is preparing for his ordination.
"With less than four days to go I am certainly a bit anxious. But I am also very hopeful that life as a priest will be both immensely joy-filled and have no doubts this is where I should be," he says.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY