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Lasallian Alumni and Missionary of Mercy: Fr Richard Shortall

Posted on 26 February 2016
Lasallian Alumni and Missionary of Mercy: Fr Richard Shortall

As part of the current Year of Mercy, Melbourne based Jesuit Priest Fr Richard Shortall is embarking on what has been termed a "ministry on wheels", with the full blessing of Pope Francis.

The Old Boy of St Francis Douglas College Memorial College in New Plymouth, New Zealand is one of 700 priests selected by the Pope to be a Missionary of Mercy.

Fr Richard has a dedicated motor home which he is using to reach nearly 30 different communities across the New South Wales diocese of Newcastle-Maitland over coming months.

His journey began with a blessing from Bishop Bill Wright, calling on him to offer a listening ear, hope, forgiveness and understanding to those in need across some of the state's most disadvantaged communities.

"I've only just started my mission and I see it very much as an act of service, helping to do the work my Jesuit brother, Pope Francis, has called me to do", Fr Richard explains.

"I've already seen so many people touched by real sorrow and hurt who are calling out for help and understanding".

Fr Richard's faith journey began as a student at St Francis Douglas College in the 1960s where he developed a strong commitment to Lasallian values that were instilled in him by the Brothers who taught him there.

"It was only a small school then with eight De La Salle Brothers and two lay teachers", he said.

"But the Brothers all knew you by name and had an inspiring commitment to social justice".

Fr Richard felt a strong vocation to religious life as a priest and chose the Jesuits because they shared the Lasallians' commitment to helping the marginalised and the disadvantaged.

"I see some great similarities in the lives of our two Founders- St John Baptist De La Salle and St Ignatius of Loyola", Fr Richard explains.

"I've maintained an ongoing connection to the Lasallians and have travelled back to New Plymouth for some school reunions over the years as well".

"My experience with the De La Salle Brothers had a pivotal influence on my faith journey and definitely shaped my decision to follow a religious vocation".

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