A South African Perspective

As I stepped off the plane into a humid Brisbane day, I did not know who was fetching me or where I was going or what exactly I would be doing. This was could be attributed to a spirit of adventure and trust in God, or a foolhardy recklessness and lack of planning. Luckily Shayne was there at the airport to collect me in a distinctive NET shirt and things were looking promising for the first option!

Before I knew it, I was showered and changed and stepping into the blissfully air-conditioned upper room at Lavalla Centre where I was introduced to what seemed to be a vast sea of unfamiliar faces (and accents) and then through the Friday afternoon traffic to Glendalough campsite, complete with kangaroos, cane-toads, kookaburras and Roz’s inflatable swimming pool. There I experienced days of training and formation, that were both deep and long; fun and fellowship with Netters and NET staff, and the incredible power of the Holy Spirit alive and active in that place and in all of our lives.

Within a few short days those 50-something strangers from around the world had become my brothers and sisters, inspiring me with their love and laughter, their commitment and their craziness and most of all their hearts on fire for Jesus.

NET Training was a wonderful experience for me, both personally and in terms of my ministry. Training (and Australia in general) was a peculiar mixture of the familiar and the novel, no doubt as a result of who I am and where I come from. I am a Diocesan priest from the Archdiocese of Cape Town in South Africa (right at the bottom of the map) where I am the parish priest of a very small and very poor parish and also serve as the youth chaplain for the Archdiocese. Heat, I was accustomed to – humidity, not so much!  Bluebottles on the beach, I was accustomed to – jellyfish in the surf, not so much! Youth ministry training I was accustomed to – full-time missionaries, not at all!

There are few experiences in life that have touched me as deeply as my 6 weeks in Australia and no group of people that I miss as much as I miss you all. Australia is blessed beyond measure to have you. Know that you are all in my prayers.

Fr Charles Prince
Archdiocese of Cape Town

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