Saturday, 28 August, was a significant day for Martin Tanti, SDB, and the Australia-Pacific Province. After a long journey, in the Salesian Parish of St Margaret Mary’s, North Brunswick, Martin was ordained to the Priesthood by his former Rector during his years of formation, Bishop Tim Costelloe, SDB. The Church was packed with Salesians, former Salesians, Salesian Sisters and former Salesian Sisters, friends and relatives from all over Australia. The presence of such a large crowd was palpable evidence of the regard and affection so many people have for Martin.
Martin’s family has Maltese background, but they grew up in Alexandria, Egypt. It was there that the Tanti family first knew the Salesians. Martin did his secondary schooling at Salesian College “Rupertswood,” Sunbury, Victoria, the Mother House of the Salesian presence in this part of the world. Soon after finishing his secondary schooling, Martin began a long Salesian journey. At every stage of his formation he was seen as a generous and warm young Salesian, with much to offer and to receive from young people. But study was not his favourite activity! With amazing perseverance, and with great help from the Salesian Sisters at Don Bosco Primary School, Engadine, Martin eventually qualified as a teacher, and returned to his theological studies. These were the first years of the formation community at Clifton Hill. Yesterday, at the Ordination, there was a memorable gathering of Salesians from that period: Bishop Costelloe, Fr Frank Freeman and Fr Michael Ledda, members of the formation team at the time, and former students, Fr William Matthews, Fr Brian Ahern and now Fr Martin Tanti.
Eventually Martin finished his theological studies, and asked for more time with young people before taking the step into Diaconate and Priesthood. In recent years he has directed the Youth Club at Don Bosco, Brunswick, and has been the Director of the Retreat Centre at Auxilium College, Lysterfield. These have been wonderful years for Martin, as he settled into Salesian ministries, and become closer to the Lord, Don Bosco and the many Salesians of this Province who have come to love and esteem him. The past 12 months have seen him move comfortably toward yesterday’s wonderful event of his Priestly Ordination. Bishop Costelloe spoke beautifully of Don Bosco’s use of the biblical image of the Good Shepherd, and the importance of that symbol for the Salesian life. It associates the Salesian and the Salesian Priestly life intimately with the Paschal Mystery. It is in Eucharistic self-gift that Priesthood shows the goodness and the love of God. Fr Martin gave a heartfelt speech of thanks at the end of the Mass, and the large attendance at the Ordination retired to the Parish Hall for a supper. There, many friends from all parts of Australia rejoiced in one another’s presence, and in the gift to the Church and the Province of Fr Martin Tanti, SDB. The Australia-Pacific Province beseeches the Lord for many more vocations, so that Don Bosco’s charismatic form of life will remain alive and well in this most distant, and largest, Salesian Province in the world.