Monsignor Peter Jeffrey from Australia has been appointed as the new Rector for Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland. The appointment, made by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in December 2011, has been formally announced and the decree of appointment has been issued.
Monsignor Jeffrey will take over from Father Philip Handforth who has finished his term as Rector.
On 29 January Monsignor Jeffrey will celebrate his final Mass at St Brendan’s Parish in Shepparton, where he has been Parish Priest for 16 years. The following day he will leave for New Zealand for his new role at the seminary, where first year students will begin on 5 February.
New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference President, Archbishop John Dew, said the bishops are grateful for Father Handforth’s dedication and service to the seminary, and are praying for him as he has recently suffered from ill health. We are also delighted to be welcoming Monsignor Jeffrey to the seminary, he said.
“Monsignor Jeffrey’s experience and passion for priesthood makes him the ideal person for the role,” said Archbishop Dew. He brings with him many years of experience as both a staff member and rector of two seminaries and has been highly involved in Catholic education. He also has great enthusiasm for the new evangelization, and having worked in a number of parishes has a proven knowledge of pastoral ministry. We believe that under his leadership students in our national seminary will develop a deep appreciation of priesthood”.
In an ABC interview, Monsignor Jeffrey said that he hoped he had become a better listener, and been approachable and available during his time at St Brendan’s. “I see that as the core of priesthood and I hope I’ll be able to witness and share that with the students I’ll be working with in New Zealand.”
He went on to describe the studies, spiritual formation and experience in pastoral work that make up the seven year programme at Holy Cross Seminary. “But the key thing for students is their own personal, human formation,” he said. “If we know ourselves and know how to relate with and understand other people we can build relationships and it’s all about establishing good relationships”.
Monsignor Jeffrey was ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral in his home town of Bendigo in 1963 and worked as Assistant Priest at parishes in Beechworth, Cohuna, Heathcote and Shepparton.
He then spent twelve years at Corpus Christi Provincial Seminary in Australia as a member of staff (1972 – 1977) and Rector (1978 – 1984). In 1985 he was appointed a staff member of the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji and became Rector in 1989, a position he held until 1993.
In 1994 Monsignor Jeffrey became Parish Priest at St John’s Catholic Parish in Euroa before joining St Brendan’s in 1995.
In addition to seminary and parish-based roles, Monsignor Jeffrey has been Chairman of the Sandhurst School Education Board since its inception 15 years ago; Director of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria for 12 years, and Chairman of a Diocesan Ecumenical Commission for 14 years. He was named Prelate of Honour by Pope John Paul in January 2000.