As Australia’s summer heats up, Australian Jesuit Fr Michael Smith will be preparing for the other extreme as he takes on the role of chaplain at McMurdo Station in Antarctica for the next four weeks.
Fr Smith has been stationed on the icy continent as part of the Antarctic Chaplaincy Program, recruited by Fr Dan Doyle from the Christchurch Diocese in New Zealand.
Each year, five priests are made available to provide chaplaincy services on the base over the summer months from October to February for the United States Antarctic Program.
Fr Smith has set up a blog to share insights and stories from his time in Antarctica, including the preparations he’s had to make to get there.
As well as ensuring he has clothing to keep warm in the sub-zero temperatures, he also had to undergo medical tests before being allowed to be stationed at such a remote location.
More Antarctic Jesuits
As noted on his blog, Fr Smith is not the first Jesuit to be posted to Antarctica.
Seismologist Fr Henry Birkenhauer SJ spent time doing research in Antarctica in 1957/58, and earned the nickname ‘polar priest’.
Jesuit Astronomer Br Guy Consolmagno visited Antarctica in 1996 and discovered a number of meteorites on the ice fields of Antarctica.
But probably the most significant contribution was made by Fr Daniel Linehan SJ, a Jesuit priest, scholar, scientist and explorer who made two expeditions to the Antarctic in 1954-55 and 1955-56. The Linehan Glacier is named in his honour.
Follow Fr Smith’s journey at http://antarcticjesuit.com