Archbishop's Homilies 2003

Mass of Installation of Father Roger Ryan As parish priest of Saint Gerard's Parish

Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at Saint Gerard’s Parish, North Dandenong,
on Saturday, 13th December, 2003, at 6.00pm


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to return to Saint Gerard’s to formally induct Father Roger Ryan as your Parish Priest.

Today on the Third Sunday of Advent we realise that Christ is near to our lives and your priest is present among you to lead you in holiness and worship, to teach you the faith of Jesus Christ and to gather you as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

As we look with eagerness to the coming feast of Christmas, we pray for Father Ryan that the Spirit of the Lord may be upon him, that you and he may form a holy people guided by the light of the Holy Spirit, that together you may work to receive the life which comes from Christ.

May this journey of faith in Advent always lead you to know hope, which the Lord alone can show us.

I now ask that Father Ryan’s letter of appointment be read.


“Rejoice! The Lord is near.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Rejoicing, in the words of the prophet, “Shout for joy! Sing! Be glad! Fear not! Rejoice! Again I say, rejoice!” in the words of Paul. Our belief in the nearness of God should put aside all fear and anxiety, planting very deeply the seeds of true and abiding peace.

This parish of Saint Gerard has a rich tradition of faithfulness to the celebration of the Eucharist and to Eucharistic Adoration, to the faith which comes from the Apostles, lived and nourished by authentic Catholic teaching, by use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the other Sacraments, by seeing the saints of God as our brothers and sisters led by Mary, our Mother, whose Rosary we cherish.

In this special parish, which I entrust to the care of Father Roger Ryan, I ask for all of you to be caught up into the mystery, which is God’s love shown clearly and demonstrated clearly by prayer, word and deed in the lives of each and every one of you in the parish.

Father Roger Ryan has worked at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, has been a Military Chaplain, has been a gifted parish priest in Lilydale and now comes to Saint Gerard’s. We respect his ability to lead and his generosity in coming to be with you. I pray that you will welcome him, support him in the leadership which he must give in all aspects of parish life – worship, teaching, school, management of parish resources, so that Saint Gerard’s will be a place of faith and strong Christian living. I hope that his presence among you will be a constant reminder that God in his wonder goes beyond all that we might hope for and that it is him whom we search to see revealed in the transforming of your hearts.

Together with Pope John Paul and his Archbishop, Father Ryan will strive to serve you faithfully and generously. I urge you to welcome him and to remember of course the larger areas of responsibilities which he now has.

Tonight I want to reflect particularly on the work of your parish priest. Jesus himself said, ‘I am the gate’. A priest is invited into a mysterious gift of self to Jesus Christ. When Father Ryan received ordination as a deacon and as a priest, his personal and public consecration in celibacy and service of his people assumed a new dimension.

At Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of the Saviour. Each priest dies to himself, places his words and personality at the Lord’s service as he rises to offer the new life that only the Lord can give to us. Through his celebration of the Eucharist the saving action of Jesus Christ in the cross comes to us. The Eucharist celebrated, adored and brought to the sick is Christ present among us.

A priest is another Christ. The Eucharist is tremendously important because here our human lives are directed to God, who fills them with meaning.

In a few moments Father Ryan will open the tabernacle and adore the Blessed Sacrament. He will be taken to the baptismal font to show that through his ministry new members will be given to God’s Church to be filled with his life.

I will take him to the Confessional where he is invited to be the minister of peace and forgiveness in the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation. I urge you all to use it well.

We will become before an image of Our Lady and the Saints to remind us that we are brothers and sisters in the family of God’s Church and Father Ryan will renew his promise of obedience made on the day of his ordination.

We cannot underestimate the praise of God and the service of people given by one who dedicates his whole life to us and to bringing us to God.

The words of Saint John in his Gospel, “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep” (John 10:11), are a reminder that all that Father Ryan does is for your welfare. In visiting the sick, in leading you in love of God and strength, Father Ryan will make present the love and concern for you, which I have as a bishop and a successor of the apostles.

I know he will draw into the service of God and His Church, those who will work in pastoral activities, those who will visit and console their brothers and sisters, those who make St Gerard’s Parish such a living and vibrant organism. I thank you for all that you do and for the support and welcome, which you give to Father Ryan on this most important night.

Father Ryan is a priest of God to lead us to Him. He is a teacher of the entire faith, which Jesus Christ entrusted to the Church, even those matters which are challenging and difficult to accept.

He is a shepherd and guide of God’s people charged with drawing people to Jesus Christ. He involves them in the work of the apostolate and supports them in the faith of the Church. On your behalf I thank him for accepting this challenge.

May the grace of the Holy Spirit accompany him in the special gift of ministerial priesthood, which he exercises in your midst.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.