On Derrimut Road, Hoppers Crossing North is a beautiful church called St James the Apostle. Depending on the time of day, in this church, you can meet the most just and compassionate person (besides my parents of course) I have met in my 12 years of life.
Father Jude Pirotta MSSP is my parish priest and friend. He treats absolutely everyone with the utmost respect and justness. It does not matter where you see Fr Jude, he always has a big welcoming smile and kind word to say.
Fr Jude’s genuine respect for people and justice started when he was a child. Fr Jude was the eighth child of nineteen. Eleven of the children were related, and his mother adopted another eight. 'My relationship with God and desire to live a life of justice was formed by observing the faith and compassion of my parents', says Fr Jude.
Despite losing his father at the age of 14, which greatly affected him emotionally, he 'discovered prayer of the heart' and this gave him the strength to move forward. His mother took on the role of solo parenting and she continued to 'instil the love of God in her children’s lives'. Father Jude lives justice as his mother did, 'she supported and cared for so many people who became a part of her life'. Her faith and love of all people continued to inspire Fr Jude.
At 16 Fr Jude saw a need in his area so he started a youth group. 'With my friends, we would organise activities for the young people in the area, including volunteering in the community'. This compassion does not surprise me as Fr Jude never sits back when he sees something should be done to help others.
Fr Jude’s parents’ deep faith and his own faith led him to become a priest. His parents 'introduced him to the charism and spirituality of Josephite, Marist and Paulist missionaries”. To this day, he is a missionary priest with the Missionary Society of Saint Paul (MSSP). The love, generosity and compassion of his mother drew him to select a missionary congregation. 'I joined a missionary congregation who had missionary service as its fourth vow. This fourth vow was instilled by our founder who had a passionate love for the poor and marginalised in society'.
My main interaction with Fr Jude is through Mass, and Youth Group. He celebrates and spreads the Word of God with such joy and enthusiasm. People are drawn to him and share in his call to help others. People can see that he practices what he preaches and he is respected for this. When Fr Jude celebrates mass, you will not believe how connected to the liturgy the congregation are. How lucky am I to be in a parish with this great man leading and inspiring me!!
YJA 2017 Intermediate Section Runner-Up: Shaun Saldana Thomas Carr College, Tarneit, VIC.