Seminarian Profiles

Meet the young men currently in discernment & formation at the seminary

Thomas Manihera

Thomas Manihera is a second year seminarian here at the Marist Seminary. He was born in Auckland. The eldest of three children raised in Whangarei. Thomas comes from a large and culturally diverse extended family. He is of Tuhoe, Tongan and New Zealand European descent. With close connections to a Samoan background. Thomas attended a secular Primary School, going onto Intermediate and Secondary school at Pompallier Catholic College. A parishioner of St Francis Xavier Catholic Parish, Thomas was an active member growing up, mainly in the role of Altar boy. Around the age of 10 or 11, Thomas started to be aware that God was calling him to take a different path in life. When others aspired to be Doctors, Scientists, Pilots or Sport stars. Deep down Thomas aspired to be only one thing, a Priest.

During his final year at Pompallier college, Thomas enquired the possibility of joining the Seminary. But from the instruction of his Parish Priest, he was advised to spend several years “experiencing life”. During his senior years at college, Thomas worked as a produce assistant at the local supermarket. After college he went onto become a Baker’s assistant at the same supermarket. During these years he also became a volunteer Officer for St John Ambulance. A role in which he held for over four years. This role introduced Thomas to all the happenings of life. From birth to death, and everything in between. Thomas loved his time at St John. Working alongside some of the greatest people, meeting a range of patients who he loved helping whilst they were in their most vulnerable states and driving his big yellow trucks at high speed! In 2018 and 2019 that call he received at the young age of 10 or 11 started to become more notable. It got to the stage where he had to eventually stop, listen and discern what it was God and Our Lady were asking of him. Eventually in 2019 after making contact with the Society of Mary, Thomas began several months of “accompaniment” with a Marist Father. A time of beautiful honesty which allowed Thomas to truthfully discern the call of God. After this time of discernment, Thomas went on to enter the Seminary in early 2020. So far he has not regretted his decision on discerning the call from God. He places what is to come in the future at the trust, mercy and love of our Heavenly Father.

Thomas asks for your continued prayers, as well as prayers for other Men and Women discerning Religious life.

Joseph Mijares

I was born in San Francisco, USA and moved to Wellington, New Zealand when I was 10 years old. I have lived and studied in Tawa throughout my academic life and then attended Victoria University of Wellington obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Building Science in 2017. I worked professionally as an Asbestos Surveyor/Consultant immediately after my university graduation. After a year and half of working in this company, I decided to resign mid-2019 to soul search and further discern my vocation and purpose.

My parents are both Filipino which made faith and attending mass a big part of my identity. I would describe myself as a ‘cradle catholic’ however, I only really cultivated and became active in my faith through my youth group CFC – YFC (Couples for Christ-Youth for Christ) and most recently CFC – SFC (Couples for Christ-Singles for Christ.) Over the past 8 years, this family ministry was a community that taught me so much and along the way provided me with genuine and authentic friendships. The knowledge and wisdom obtained from incredible events such as conferences, mission trips to even the simple conversations and interpersonal relationships, made me realise how my Catholic faith became a significant part of my life. I entered the seminary at the start of 2020 to discover more of myself and God’s plan for me but also provide an opportunity to share and nurture that spark of faith which became so convincing and real for me.

Hemi Ropata

Lachie Bartlett

I am a first-year Marist Seminarian. I was born and raised in Christchurch. I am profoundly deaf (means I’m deaf as a post) and have a cochlear implant in my left ear that helps me to hear. I am incredibly blessed to have an amazing family that supported me throughout my childhood to help me see my deafness as a gift. I attended St. Bede’s College, a Marist Fathers College, from 2011-2015 and was Head Boy in 2015. From St. Bede’s, I went to the University of Canterbury to study a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). I was fortunate enough to finish my Law Degree on an Exchange with the University of Nottingham in the UK. After completing my LLB, I worked alongside Fr Mark Walls SM, Matt Newman, and Rachel Farrington for six months at the Young Marist Organisation. The work I did with the Young Marists involved working with students and staff from the nine Marist Schools. Alongside this, I worked as a Boarding Supervisor and a part-time teacher aid at St. Patrick’s College, Silverstream. And now I am at the seminary. 

I am from – what I would say – is a practical Catholic family. We went to mass every second Sunday (unless the Warriors were on). Throughout my childhood, Catherine (Mum) and Donald (Dad) would invite the parish priest – Fr Simon Eccelton and later on, Fr John Adams, around for dinner. I was able to see the human side of these great men, and this got the ball rolling for me to consider the priesthood as a genuine path to consider. My time at St. Bede’s kept my faith on a “simmering heat”. The friendship that I developed with Fr Mark Walls through Marist leadership opportunities, the time I spent with his Marist community in Mount St, and the work that I did in the Marist schools, especially at Silverstream with Fr John Walls (Fr Mark’s older brother) really helped draw me to the seminary. I guess my faith could be summed up by this phrase – God speaks to us through the people and events of our lives. Oh, and also I love sport – I am a HUGE Manchester City, Crusaders, Warriors (for my sins), and Blackcaps fan (basically if it’s a sport – I’m in). 

Vincent Brzozowski

I was born in Papatoetoe Auckland to two parents, Julie and Stefan, at Middlemore hospital, and am the eldest of five. I come from a New Zealand European family: my father’s side of the family is Polish, and my mother’s side is from the North Shore. I attended Holy Cross Papatoetoe Primary and Sancta Maria College, where I enjoyed playing football, tennis, hockey, and trumpet in the orchestra and jazz band. My passion for classical music, inspired by my mother at an early age and by supportive music teachers along the way, led me to the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington to complete a Bachelor of Music (Hons) in classical performance on piano and trumpet. Studying alongside energetic musicians was a positive experience and performances were enjoyable, though I didn’t see much daylight being stuck in a practice room all day. After this, I worked in schools as an itinerant music teacher and taught piano privately.

I am grateful for my inheriting the Catholic faith from both sides of the family, both parents encouraging me in prayer and supportive in learning from a young age. I was also sent to a variety of youth camps growing up, often giving me a fresh, positive view of prayer with many opportunities to learn more about God, meet passionate priests living out their vocations joyfully, and engage with people with different views. Although I had these positive experiences, I only began considering the possibility of religious life in 2020. I encountered the Marists through the wellington parish, St. Mary of the Angels, noticed their simple way of going about things and their love of Mary. I entered the Marist seminary in 2022 beginning with studies at Te Kupenga, Catholic Theological College. Thank you for reading!