Archbishop's Homilies 2010

Ordination Mass 11 September



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Together with my brother bishops and priests, I welcome you all to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Aurelio Fragapane, Jossy Kizhakkethalackal, Nicholas Pearce and Richard Rosse for the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

We are deeply honoured by the presence of Bishop Maurice Piat, Bishop of Port-Louis in Mauritius, who has joined us for this ordination.

We remember with affection Father Michael Quigley, Parish Priest of Mordialloc and Aspendale, who died yesterday morning.  While thanking God for his priestly goodness, we pray for the repose of his soul.

Surrounded by the love and care of family members, Seminary staff, friends and colleagues, they have come to enter into the mystery of the priesthood, which I confer on them in the name of the Church with the mission to teach, sanctify and serve God’s people.  After many years of study they enter into the wonderful mystery of God’s choice of them and through them of providence for others in holiness.

As a rejoicing Church we pray that they will be ever faithful to the great gift God gives them for the life of his people.  So that we may live in the faith that we profess, we call to mind our sins knowing that God is always equal to conversion and renewal in our lives as he is open to their conversion of heart as they come to the priesthood.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we have gathered with Aurelio, Jossy, Nicholas and Richard, who come with deep joy and great humility to be ordained to the priesthood.

The gift of priesthood which they will receive is not a personal advancement, but an invitation to leadership and service in the people of God.  By being ordained to the ministerial priesthood they are receiving a priesthood which differs in essence and not only in degree from the common priesthood of the faithful. They are configured to Christ and become the instruments of his truth, his sanctification and his humble service of God’s people.

Jesus himself said:  “I come among you as one who serves.”  Yet he was the great God taking the humility of our human nature so as to lift it up and open out our capacity to God.

Just under three months ago Pope Benedict reminded those he was ordaining for the Diocese of Rome that the priesthood is based on having the courage to say ‘yes’ to another will.  Precisely by conforming to God’s will we can penetrate even more deeply into the truth of our own being and our ministry.

A priest is called and has to be another Christ.  This is not merely a rubber stamp.  It is an invitation to what is essential in priesthood; to have the love, the mind and the pastoral heart of Christ, as expressed through the Church.  In your prayer you profess in the words of Saint Peter:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (Luke 9:20)  From the outset we must say that it is from our being that we discover the action that flows from it. 

As Pope Benedict himself said:  “The priest is called to rediscover in prayer the ever new face of his Lord and the most authentic content of his mission.  Only those who have a profound relationship with the Lord are grasped by him, can take him to others, can be sent out.  ‘Abiding with him’ must always accompany the exercise of the priestly ministry.  Above all in the difficult moments when it seems that things need doing this abiding with Christ has priority.  Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we must always abide with him.”  (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily 20th June 2010)

The life of a diocesan priest is always entwined with his people.  It is clear that holy priests make people holier and that good people make their priests also grow in holiness.

From the long years of prayer, study and pastoral work in the Seminary you embark, perhaps with some hesitation, upon the priesthood.  You still have much to discover and learn and if you enter with generosity, prayer and peacefulness into the priesthood then your work will be fruitful and will bring God’s people to holiness.

In a few months you will go to take up appointments in parishes where you are still learning under the guidance of a wise parish priest.  Your mission then will be to be immersed in prayer, teaching and service with the people to whom you are appointed.  Your mission is not to the whole diocese or to those things which you find attractive.  In conformity with God’s will you discover through immersing yourself in the work of one parish that true peace, happiness and priestly fruitfulness are to be found in the ministry to which you have been appointed with the people who are under your care.  Similarly, in the celebration of the liturgy done with faith we priests have to realise that we are servants and not masters of the Church’s worship.  With the introduction next year of the new translation for the celebration of Mass, particular faithfulness will need to prevail over our own whims and inclinations.

Service in parish is constant.  If you are nourished by prayer, faithful and generous to this particular people to whom you are appointed, then your ministry will be fruitful in ways which you did not first expect.  This is because your holiness and mine consists in faithfulness to the will of God.

You have come forward with great generosity, you have been trained well and you have given yourself to Seminary and pastoral experience with generosity and dedication.  I have every confidence that you will find that the Lord is sufficient for all your needs, will guide, help and inspire you in whatever you do.  In these first years of priesthood he will help you to become good pastors, who sanctify, know, visit and support your people in the knowledge and love of Christ which has been shared so generously with you.

I pay a special tribute to the families of those who are being ordained for their love and generosity in giving their sons to the Church.  Your gift will be for the welfare of God's people and, while it is a sacrifice to you personally, I pray that it will bring you an abundance of rich blessings, knowing that you have a son a priest.  I also invite any young men here among us to consider the great vocation of priesthood.  In my 43 years as a priest, I have found that the priesthood is a wonderful experience of God and of people, leading me into wonderful and unexpected opportunities to serve God and humanity.  I invite you to come forward and to try this most wonderful of vocations.

May Mary, the servant of the Lord, and Mother of priests guide you in your service and fill your hearts with love, as now we proceed to Ordination surrounded by the prayers and wishes of all God’s holy people.

+ Denis J. Hart,