Vocations Week

Serving the people of God

Ramesh Richards SJ will be ordained at St Mary’s North Sydney on 8 August 2020. He first joined the Jesuits in 2010, and is currently based in Sydney as the Rector of the Cardoner Project.

Ramesh Richards SJ will be ordained at St Mary’s North Sydney on 8 August 2020. Jesuits and companions across the Province are invited to watch the ordination on Saturday and the Thanksgiving Mass on Sunday via live-stream. Here are the details: 

Ordination Mass – 11am Saturday 8 August
Watch the live-stream here. 

Mass of Thanksgiving – 11am Sunday 9 August
Watch the live-stream here.

Ramesh first joined the Jesuits in 2010, and is currently based in Sydney as the Rector of the Cardoner Project. He caught up with us recently to discuss his vocation and ministry among young people. 

Can you tell us about your current ministry at the Cardoner Project?

It’s a young adult ministry based at the intersection of three different universities – University of Technology Sydney, the University of Sydney and the University of Notre Dame.

We run a volunteer-based restaurant on the ground floor, and above that we’ve got a residence for university students. At the moment we’ve got 20 students – men and women – in university studies. We also organise immersions and service programs in many different countries, until recently when we had to recall everyone due to the pandemic.

Because of the pandemic we’ve closed the restaurant, so the space has become a collection point for food for Jesuit Refugee Service. We’ve also begun offering this space for homeless people to come and enjoy a meal. So many things are happening right now, good things. The pandemic has allowed us to rethink and find new ways to serve the community.

What’s your role as Rector and what gives you life in that role?

Every day is unique. I might come into work at 7 30 in the morning, having some agenda in my head. Half of it will get done, but most of it will not get done because, you know, working with young people they just come and knock on your door and I welcome that.

One minute I might be writing a reference letter for someone applying for a scholarship, next minute I’m writing something else or having a cuppa with somebody who needs to have a chat or spiritual direction.

Now with the pandemic, I find myself online a lot more, just touching base with people wanting to catch up especially more from the spiritual point of view and discerning their way forward.

As a Rector my role here is to encourage these spiritual conversations, to walk with our staff and our volunteers and just listen. It’s a privilege to just listen and hear how God operates in everybody’s life.

What has your ministry taught you about your vocation and your faith?

The young people are showing me what the future of the Church looks like.

I am not denying the tension in the faults of the Church, and we need to hold that, but at the same time we’ve also got these young people – who are disillusioned by the Church in some ways. But I find that in some ways, it’s the language of the Church they’re disillusioned by, rather than the full reality. If we show them what Church looks like, what community looks like, and how faith life is lived concretely, they want to be part of this.

Many of the young men and women who have come and spoken to me about religious vocation, they are not denying this reality but they also see the life-giving church and they want to serve both. That’s the future of the Church for me, and I want to be part of this story.

What you would say to a young man considering religious life in the Jesuits in particular?

Ministry in the Church is for the community. It is for the people of God, and wider, it’s for God’s creation.

If one can see that one is called to something bigger, something life-giving, consider religious life because the world is hungering for the Eucharist.

I would welcome you to join me in this ministry because I can assure you it is life-giving.

Listen to the full interview with Ramesh as part of the ‘Cuppa with a Jesuit’ series.

To find out more about what it means to #beajesuit, go to facebook.com/JesuitVocationsAustralia.