Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Boxing And Discerning Vocations: Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J.

The former minister and now Australia's Liberal Party Leader Tony Abbott used his new book, Battlelines, to set out his Liberal philosophy and a route back to power. In this extract published recently in The Australian, he reveals the tensions between his private and public lives - and why he gave up on the priesthood.

An excerpt of Tony Abbott's piece.

I'm sure, through my role in student politics as through academic or sporting prowess, I was chosen as a NSW Rhodes Scholar at the end of 1980. Someone once said that Oxford had left him Justify Full"magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life". For me, one legacy was a handful of friendships that have survived the tyranny of distance.
I doubt that I have ever met a finer man than Paul Mankowski. It's an unusual Jesuit who turns out to be a recruiting agent for the university boxing team.
A couple of drinks in the pub secured my reluctant agreement one night in 1982. After an initial training session,
I was preparing my excuses when Paul presented me with a new skipping rope.
This was a big investment from a man whose wardrobe was handed down from dead priests, so I didn't have the heart to quit. Within a couple of weeks, the challenge of a new and ferocious discipline had me hooked.

Another Oxford legacy, thanks to the tutorial system, was the ability to digest and assimilate texts and to produce to deadline a 1500-word essay. Whatever else they might be, Oxbridge undergraduate courses are superb preparation for op-ed journalism.

At Oxford, I'd again been asking myself how I could best exercise leadership and, again, my thoughts had turned to the priesthood. I didn't relish more years in the classroom, was far from certain about my aptitude for parish life, and hated the prospect of lifelong celibacy. On the other hand, the notion of becoming a priest had tugged at me for years.
Meeting Mankowski, a contemporary who was both the embodiment of muscular Christianity
and fully acquainted with the cross-tides of modern life, made me think it might be possible to become a priest and stay "normal".

Read the full story (here) in the Daily Telegraph

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