Tag Archives: Ordination

Ordination Homily

Bishop Brendan returned to his native diocese of Galway on Sunday July 16th to ordain the diocese’s newest priest, Fr Declan Lohan.  Declan who trained in law and had been called to The Bar, responded to God’s call to serve His people as a priest.  This is the text of Bishop Brendan’s homily.  Our own diocese wishes Fr Declan every blessing for his future ministry among God’s people in the Diocese of Galway.


Declan,

The biographical note published by Father Diarmuid for your ordination today tells us that you ‘give much credit for your vocation to the witness and example of many significant people in your life.’

The words ‘witness’ and ‘example’ leaped off the page when I read this.  I’d like us then to reflect today on the importance of witness and example.  Particularly when it comes to our task in the Church today, so emphasised by Pope Francis and all recent Popes, of spreading the word, planting the good seed.  The day is gone in Europe, and particularly in Ireland, when the dominant culture will do that for us.

It’s now 42 years since Pope Paul the Sixth (now Blessed Paul VI) made the following oft-quoted remark in his powerful exhortation on the proclamation of the gospel, Evangelii Nuntiandi :

‘Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses’.  Example is the great teacher, for good or ill.  Children will do what I do, not what I say.  Faith is caught, not taught, and caught best when the life I live is in sync with the words I speak.  But in a particular way in these times when all institutions and traditional sources of authority and wisdom are doubted and under severe scrutiny, witness and example in the matter of faith become far more significant.  This is true for all followers of Jesus Christ, but especially for those of us called to the service of priesthood.  Such witness will expose us to opposition, even ridicule and possibly danger.  Never forget what Saint Paul says today: The spirit comes to help us in our weakness.

You go on to say Declan, that the significant people whose example and witness led you to this day were your family, your teachers, your neighbours and your friends.  These people are here today.  You yourselves know who you are.

And what you are describing, Declan, is the community of faith out of which your call from God emerged and within which it could be discerned.  Clearly this community of faith in Oranmore feels affirmed by your ordination: the sense of celebration and joy is palpable here today and rightly so.

As a priest, the witness of your life will be everything.  The rituals you perform, the clothes you will wear have their significance, but what people will see above all is the life you live, the way you relate.  And as a priest, your work will be the work of building community, community after the heart of God who is love, as revealed by Jesus Christ.  That is the community of faith that is the church.  That community always stands in need of being built and re-built (as our family homes do, and indeed our families themselves), for the community is made up of people, all of us, priests and people, imperfect and unfinished by definition – and we sin. [Isn’t that why the owner therefore in today’s Gospel cautions his over-eager servants or ministers against their plans for  purification now.]  The harvest is rich as Jesus said, and in need of labourers.  You have responded to Jesus’ appeal.  The heart of the God who is Holy Trinity longs for his children to love one another, and that’s what building the community that in his church is all about.

Pope Paul went on to say ‘It is ..primarily by her conduct and life that the church will evangelize (bring the Good News to) the world, in other words by her living witness to the Lord Jesus, the living witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in face of the powers of this world…’ 

The implements that will do the building of the community of Jesus Christ are poverty and detachment, and freedom in face of the powers of the world.  These are the implements of the priestly trade.  These were Jesus’ implements, the tools of his trade, for which at the age of thirty he laid aside the tools of his training in the carpenter’s shed at Nazareth.

You too have laid aside the trade in which you were trained, to follow Jesus as a priest, with and for the people of God in the Diocese of Galway.  Your priesthood and shepherding will be enhanced by your first training, just as the experience of being wood-worker was never lost on Jesus.  On behalf of the diocese I thank you, and thank God for inspiring you, for the quiet persistence with which he planted that good seed of your vocation and gathered you into a community in which you could hear his call.

Talking of poverty and detachment, Pope Francis, speaking to priests, religious and seminarians in Havana in September of 2015, told them ‘to love poverty like a mother’.  That’s not the message the world gives, nor any of us want to hear maybe.  And then, when you think a mother gives life and unconditional love.  Isn’t the Pope saying that it is out of our poverty and detachment that we become life-givers?

He went on then to invite them to ask themselves the question ‘How is my spirit of poverty doing?’ And ‘How is my spirit of interior detachment?’  Good questions for all of us priests as we ponder ordination today and if we are to be renewed joyfully in the call to priesthood now coming to its first fruition in Declan.  Can it be that my greatest gift or talent in this particular calling lies in the areas in which I need you and you and you who have the gifts and talents I don’t have?  The first Beatitude of Jesus – and the one that matters most – is Blessed are the poor’ as Saint Luke’s version has it, indicating something visible and Blessed are the Poor in Spirit’ in Saint Matthew’s better-known version, indicating an interior reality as well.  But never forget Saint Paul in today’s second reading: ‘The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness’.  What I lack, my poverty, leaves room for the Holy Spirit.  If I think I have it all, or should have it all, the Holy Spirit cannot get in.

And last year Pope Francis in his prayer for the Year of Mercy gave us another powerful reason to give thanks for our poverty: ‘Lord, you willed that your ministers would be clothed in weakness, in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error.  Let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved and forgiven by God’.  Declan my brother, do not ever be afraid, when you doubt yourself, feel unable or incapable, feel lost or famished.  These things are God’s gift so you can be the man of compassion like Jesus, with a heart always for the misery people experience.

The enemy of today’s parable continues to scatter his seed when the planter of the good seed is sleeping.  The field in which you will now prosper, please God, has its share of darnel, weed, in it.  Growing strong, loud at times, assertive and threatening to swallow up and smother the good wheat.  In the face of all that, you must keep your eyes on the master and owner of the field and your ears especially open to his word, above all other words and promptings.  And when that word seems dry and lifeless, remember again Paul’s words today: ‘when we cannot pray properly, the Spirit Himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words…’  Servants in the field of the Lord can panic in our day too at the seeming strength and proliferation of the darnel. ‘Do you want us to weed it out?’  Let’s clean things up now!  The owner’s concern and passion is for the good wheat: rooting out weed at this point will do damage, destroy the good wheat too.  Leave the judgment to the owner.  ‘No’, he is definite and clear.  The voice of Wisdom herself, who tells us in today’s first reading that our relationship with our fellow-men, all of them, must be governed by kindness.

The Gospel story today brings home to us – thank God – that God is patient above all else with this world he has made and all of us who are in it.  Love is patient always in the first place, because the God who is Love is patient above all.  Jesus addressed this God always as ‘Father’, as you will be Declan from today.  Patient with all things and with everybody.  Including yourself.

We’re not priests in order to fix the world, or anybody in it.  So we can relax on that score.  We are priests however because God has called us, and like him we believe for all, we hope for all, hope against hope often, and we love each one more than they do themselves, and to love too God’s field, the Church and the common home in which the God of life has planted all people, for their thriving.

Brendan McCarrick S.A.C.

Fr Brendan McCarrick, S.A.C. was ordained to the priesthood on Sunday July 24th.  The Ordination was celebrated in Brendan’s home parish of Mullinabreena and the Ordaining Bishop was Bishop Brendan Kelly.

Accompanied in prayer by his family, neighbours, friends, priests of the Pallottine Order (S.A.C.) as well as many of our own diocesan priests and religious, Brendan answered “Yes” to God’s call to Service.  We wish him every happiness and blessing in his ministry.

Fr Brendan’s first assignment will be in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

Below is the text of Bishop Brendan’s homily.

HOMILY

“‘Samuel, Samuel’, the Lord called. And Samuel answered, ‘Here I am’!”

‘Brendan, Brendan’, the Lord called.

 ‘Let Brendan McCarrick who is to be ordained priest come forward’, we just heard.

And you answered ‘Present’ – Here I am!

Samuel heard the call. So did Brendan

But it took Samuel three attempts before he knew how to answer.

As you yourself know, Brendan, it’s one thing to hear the call, but how exactly to answer can take time (and a number of attempts!)

Discernment takes time and persistence…and the help of the wisdom of an Eli.

So now you know how you must answer.

And it hasn’t changed over the centuries and two testaments, for those called to priesthood:

Its fundamentally a matter of attitude, an attitude lived obediently:

The attitude in the response given by the old priest Eli:

‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’.

This first reading is the one you wanted yourself today, Brendan. It’s a wonderful, challenging and appropriate reading, for today and surely for the rest of your life.

‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’…surely the motto to guide any man who would wish to serve as a priest of God, and to bind himself forever as a servant of God and of God’s people, and specifically within the society of the Catholic Apostolate of St Vincent Pallotti.

In the Collect of this Ordination Mass, we prayed: ‘Lord our God, grant a persevering obedience to your will to this deacon, (Brendan,) so that by his ministry and life, he may gain glory for you in Christ’.

But no glory for yourself. That’s the call. Fundamentally to humility, which is acquired only in the furnace of humiliation,  and in the obedience which you solemnly promise today, not just to God and his Word, but also, in a few moments, to your human superiors.

We live in a world that doesn’t always understand the value that is obedience, but we follow Jesus, whose path was one of ‘humbling himself and becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross’. That path was prefigured in the life of Samuel, whose call, like yours, Brendan was primarily one of listening to God and his word ‘Speak Lord…’

I would like to think therefore that it is providential for you that you come to ordination on this Sunday when the Church gives us all the Gospel we have just heard. This moment when, touched by the example he was witnessing, one  of Jesus’ disciples asked him ‘Lord teach us to pray…’  The disciple of Jesus is a person who longs to pray, a person who sees that somewhere somehow prayer is the foundation of all that Jesus was, all he did, all he spoke. Prayer is the wellspring of all Christian life, this was the example Jesus showed, and those who wish to exercise the apostolate of Jesus Christ, particularly as priests, cannot do so unless their every day, their whole being and every word they utter is founded on prayer. The people of God expect this of us and deserve it, and prayer is the first service we render to them and for them. It’s why you will live in community as a Pallotine, so that you will be encouraged and called into prayer, the only foundation on which Christian communion can be built, by your brothers.

The word priest means ‘mediator’…one who speaks on behalf of others, who in our case as ministerial priests speak to God for our people, our world, ourselves. So that all may be one as Jesus pleaded before his death. Our example is crucial, as was Jesus’ example for his disciples, so that they in their turn might embrace that common priestly baptismal call to be men and women of prayer.

But prayer is also, and primarily what Eli the old priest knew, about listening to God, time with the one who loves us first, pondering his word with Mary. ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’

So, Brendan, from now on your life will not be your own. It will be given… as indeed others give themselves in marriage, for example. And in so far as it is fully given, your example will be the most powerful and effective way that you will inspire, support and serve others…as with Jesus in today’s Gospel.

In this context of the given life, I’d like to recall the Testament of Christian de Chergé, the extraordinary abbot of the Monastery of Tibherine in Algeria who was kidnapped and assassinated along with six of his Cistercian brothers in March 1996. The Testament, written in a letter to be opened after his death, begins as follows:

  ‘If it should happen one day—and it could be today—that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to encompass all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to this country.’ [Christian de Chergé]

As priests, all our lives are given. To God and to the people we are sent to serve. It is a way of great personal fulfilment…not without struggle and pain…and it is a call from Jesus, worthwhile and entirely necessary in the world of today.

We are told that from the moment he gave the answer ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening’, Samuel ‘let no word of the Lord’s fall to the ground’.

May that be so for you, Brendan, and you will be a happy priest, given to God and to his people, as Samuel was, – and Jesus – and Vincent Pallotti.

Silver Jubilee

We had a lovely and memorable gathering in St James’ Church, Carracastle this Sunday afternoon.  It was a Parish Celebration to mark the Silver Jubilee of Parish Priest, Fr Michael Quinn.  We were all welcomed to what was a joyful and prayerful celebration of Eucharist.  Full credit to all involved and congratulations to Fr Michael at this special milestone in his ministry. It was clear to see he is very much at the heart of his Parish Community and they value his presence there. Ad Multos Annos Fr Michael.

Ordination of Fr Paul Kivlehan

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Some images from Ordination Ceremony on June 9th in Achonry-Mullinabreena Parish.  Fr Paul Kivlehan becomes the newest priest in our diocese.  We thank God for his ordination and pray God’s many and continued blessings on his ministry.

BISHOP BRENDAN’S HOMILY

Anointing with Chrism

Anointing with Chrism

‘As the father has loved me

So I have loved you.

Remain in my love….

 

Love one another as I have loved you….’(Gospel John 15, 9-17)

My dear people of Achonry-Mullinabreena

It is good to be with you today, gathered in this beautifully renewed church of the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart of God’s Love. I’m deeply conscious of how you have prepared for this day, the effort and time put in, especially over the past year, so that this would be what it should be, a day to remember, a day when you are at your best as God’s people, a family of faith. Thank you and thank you for Paul.

I’m deeply conscious too that this is the parish of St Nathy, and the parish that gives its name to our diocese. St Nathy is our patron and our father in the faith.

Being here focusses us on the origins, the beginnings of the faith story of the diocese 1500 years ago, and how deep are the roots of the faith that is expressed so eloquently in all the preparations, as in all that we are doing today in Ordaining Paul as priest.

In this Year of Faith, it is no accident that we are having our first Ordination to the priesthood in 10 years, and that that ordination is taking place here in the parish of the priest Nathy himself, with whom the faith story of the diocese began, all those centuries ago.

The faith womb from which Paul the priest is being born today is very deep….

People of Achonry-Mullinabreena, you have restored and renewed this church building for this day on which you give Paul to the diocese as priest. Please let us pray today and let deep reflection begin on the treasure that is our Christian faith, and belonging with Jesus to the family of God, and how that gift of faith may be renewed and restored in the hearts of all the people of this diocese of St Nathy. May this day mark a new beginning for faith throughout our diocese, beginning from this parish….

In the context of renewal, I am reminded of what Pope John Paul 2 said at Knock in September 1979, the very month in which you were born, Paul:

The task of renewal in Christ is never finished. Every generation, with its own mentality and characteristics, is like a new continent to be won for Christ. The Church must constantly look for new ways that will enable her to understand more profoundly and to carry out with renewed vigour the mission received from her Founder’. If that was true in 1979, it is even more true today….and we take these words to heart on this day of profound hope and, yes, why not, new beginning for us all. 

I want to welcome your family, Paul. There are many of them here, including your brother Walter. But I want especially to welcome Annie-Mae and Walter, your parents. They have been your first teachers in the ways of Faith, your best teachers. And you will find Paul that they will continue to be that. A home and parents where prayer and faith is part of the air we breathe is a fountain from which you will continue to draw ever deeper strength as you respond to God’s call, and bring the Good News of God’s love to others in your priestly ministry, especially when the going gets tough. As it will betimes.

In a few moments we will continue with the Ordination ceremony. It is a solemn and joyful ceremony, with many moments rich in word and in sign. The final moment will be when your parents bring forward the chalice and paten which I will then present to you with the words:

‘Accept from the holy people of God

the gifts to be offered to Him.

Know what you are doing,

And imitate the mystery you celebrate:

Model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross’.

This entire ordination ceremony is embedded in the Eucharist, which is the mystery of the Lord’s cross. Out of that mystery, though, Resurrection and new life are born. And out of this mystery too your priesthood is born. Today you become a man of the Eucharist.

A priest doesn’t just celebrate the Holy Eucharist or preside at it:

He becomes eucharist: taken, blest, broken, given.

‘Know what you are doing’, the ceremony will state in a moment, ‘and imitate the mystery you celebrate’.

Already in responding to that small persistent voice [which you recognised in several seemingly small but key moments in your life,] you are aware of the fact that responding to God’s call to priesthood costs. There is a cross. The preface of today’s mass speaking of the priestly vocation, puts it well as it prays to God for priests: it says                                                                                       

 ‘As they give up their lives for you and for the salvation of their brothers and sisters, they strive to be conformed to the image of Christ himself and offer you a constant witness of faith and love’.

The commitment to celibacy made with diaconate, the promise of obedience today, are part of that giving up, that witness of faith and love. Priesthood doesn’t come cheap. 

Were this not a Sunday, we would be celebrating on this day, June 9,  the feast of the great St Colmcille or Columba. In this context, there is an ancient little tale recounted in the Book of Lismore. It tells us that Colmcille came to visit Nathy here in Achonry one time. Along with him were two other famous saints and founders of churches, St Cainneach of Ossory (Kilkenny) and St Comghall of Bangor. They arrived after evening meal time, and Nathy left them without food till the morning – that was the normal fasting time in the ancient Irish monasteries – and then he assessed their reactions! Fasting was a central part of Christian practice in ancient Achonry. The fact is worth pondering, but we won’t talk about fasting here now for today and tomorrow!

You see Nathy, good priest that he was, was right…assessing the reaction of his friends to the fasting, the sacrifice the situation they found themselves in demanded. Life as priest invites us to fast often…as it invites all the people of God, whose servants we are. That’s how it was for the Master who calls us, even to the ultimate deprivation and desolation that was Golgotha.

But already, Paul, you have tasted too the truth of resurrection, new life, joy. You come here today surrounded by love: family, friends, neighbours …community, the rocklike security of knowing you belong and are cherished…. This ceremony and this day with all its preparation, as already mentioned, is redolent of sacrifice and unselfish giving: and all of that, a sure image and taste of the infinite love of the one Jesus reveals to us all as Father. We beautify our churches so they will remind us of heaven, and the great joy that is the fulfilment of all human longing. We are a people of Resurrection, and you will be a man of resurrection, feet firmly planted in the whole of the Paschal mystery, because you are man of the Holy Eucharist

The mayflower is in full bloom outside and the sun glorious in the sky, our ceremony here is rich and we are all gathered in faith and hope and love around you. God is doing a good thing in you, Paul, for all our sakes. Thank you for your yes to him, and may He, who has begun this work in you, bring it to fulfilment in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.