Melbourne News

Joyous ceremony in St Patrick’s Cathedral

Monday 10 September 2012

By Christopher Akehurst and Fiona Power
Kairos Catholic Journal

IN an historic Mass on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saturday 8 September at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop Denis Hart ordained eight new priests in the Catholic Church.

View gallery
Read Archbishop Denis Hart's Homily

Read Fr Harry Entwistle's Response

Read Bishop Elliott's commentary for the rites of priestly ordination

More than 2000 people attended the ordination which saw the largest number of priests ordained at St Patrick’s since 1985.
Four men who have completed their studies at Corpus Christi Seminary,  Fr Andrew McCarter, Fr Benneth Osuagwu, Fr Jerome Santamaria and Fr Kevin Williams, were ordained together with former Anglican clergymen and members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Fr Neil Fryer, Fr James Grant, Fr Christopher Seton and Fr Ramsay Williams.

Watch video stream of ordination

Friends, family and well-wishers travelled from near and far to join the ordinands, Archbishop Hart, George Cardinal Pell, bishops of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, the Bishop of Lismore, Ordinary of the Ordinariate Fr Harry Entwistle, seminarians and more than 120 priests at the celebration.

Archbishop Hart welcomed all to the special “moment of unity”, and paid tribute to the rich variety of experience that the men bring to their priesthood and roles as priests in the Archdiocese. 

“From diverse origins and with a rich variety of experience these men stand before you touched by the love of God, willing to give themselves so that the sacramental life and care which Jesus instituted may be active and vibrant among his people.”

The solemnity of the occasion brought forth the full splendour of Catholic liturgy. The Cathedral was alive with sound and colour as the procession of ordinands, clergy and bishops moved up the nave, accompanied by the choir singing the hymn Praise to the Holiest in the height. The ordinands were vested as deacons, each in an alb with his stole over the left shoulder. As priests, they will wear their stoles over both shoulders, with the chasuble over it. This vesting, after ordination, is an ancient and symbolically important part of the ceremony.

Before the ordination proper, the candidates made a promise of obedience to the Church and their Ordinary. The great Litany of the Saints followed, during which the ordinands prostrated themselves before the altar. Then, the central moment of the rite, the laying on of hands by the Archbishop. Other priests present then laid their hands on each new priest’s head, as a sign that all priests share the one priesthood of Christ.

The new priests were then vested and each received the chalice and paten. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist that followed, the new priests concelebrated with Archbishop Hart, Cardinal Pell, Fr Entwistle, bishops and other clergy.

Following the Mass, Fr Andrew McCarter and Fr Harry Entwistle addressed the congregation.

Fr McCarter expressed appreciation to all who had made the day possible, including family, formators, priests and parishioners, and especially thanked Archbishop Hart for his support and for enabling the seminarians to be ordained with the Ordinariate.
“This is truly an historic day, and we are honoured to have been part of it.”

Fr Entwistle thanked the Catholic bishops, particularly Archbishop Hart and Bishop Peter Elliott, for their support for the Ordinariate and for ordaining candidates to the diaconate and priesthood on its behalf. He said the Holy Father’s vision included priests of the Ordinariate and the local diocese working alongside each other to grow God’s kingdom.

“What greater sign of this sharing of the task can there be than for the priests of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross to be ordained side by side in one ordination service?” he said. “This is indeed an historic moment: one Church, one priesthood, one bishop but enriching the tapestry of the Catholic Church by bringing our own liturgy and our spirituality as a gift to be shared by all.”


My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today with much joy we reflect upon the gift of priesthood in the Church.  From diverse origins and with a rich variety of experience these men stand before you touched by the love of God willing to give themselves so that the sacramental life and care which Jesus instituted may be active and vibrant among his people.
In the deepest part of the souls of these men, there is an encounter between the life-giving spirit and our human gifts and sometimes inadequacies. We know that the gift of priesthood is greater than us as individual people, but we know that the gift of priesthood exercised in the Church brings the life designed by Christ for the salvation of the world to all of us and the people of God.
Andrew McCarter brings maturity as a teacher and broad experience.  Benneth has studied in his own country, in Rome and at Maynooth in Ireland, before coming to Corpus Christi.  He is accompanied by his sister who has come from Nigeria on this occasion.  Jerome with impressive academic qualifications has been a tremendous influence for good in helping other seminarians. Kevin is already showing rich pastoral gifts in his placement as a Deacon.
I am very honoured that Father Harry Entwistle has asked me to ordain four men for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross as priests of the Catholic Church.  Our lives are enriched by the experience and the future ministry of Neil Fryer, James Grant, Christopher Seton and Ramsay Williams.  Already for many years they have worked with distinction as Anglican priests.  Recognised by Archbishop Freier in a conversation with me, their long journey to the Church and to the Ordinariate achieves a new stage here today.
Each of these eight men is in every sense priests of the Catholic Church.  They will work among all of us and bring our people to God.  I want to thank Father Entwistle for his assurance that the priests ordained for the Ordinariate will be working among us in the Ordinariate Church, but also in parish and other circumstances throughout the Archdiocese.  We welcome them and thank them and stand in great admiration of the courageous journey which they have undertaken.
In unity of spirit we recognise those who have accompanied them to this moment, their families, Diane, the wife of James Grant, parishioners of these men, some of whom are joining the Ordinariate.
So today’s ceremony reminds us that the gift of priesthood is active and fruitful in the Church and moves us to be thankful to God who will never leave his Church deserted without priests to bring us the things of God.
And while the Lord has made his Church a royal priesthood, our High Priest Jesus Christ also chose some of his followers to carry out publically in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of people.
And we reflect on what that means to us as the people of God.  Just as Jesus was sent by the Father as teacher, priest and pastor, so these men are sent similarly. They will be men given to Christ, bringing Christ to others, through their prayer, their teaching and their work and example.
They are to serve Christ in this ministry which is to make his own body the Church, grow into the people of God a holy temple.  They are called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be moulded into the likeness of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest.  Whether we sit here on our ordination day or after many years of priestly service that growth in the likeness of Christ is a constant inspiration and encouragement to priests to be more Christ-like, to draw people to that magnetic love with which Christ desired that we should all be touched and transformed in our lives.
My brothers, you are now to be advanced to the order of priesthood.  Your teaching in the name of Christ, sharing the Word of God with joy, meditating on the law of God and putting it into practice, must be at the centre of all that you do.
You teaching will be true nourishment for the people and the example of your lives will attract the followers of Christ to build up the house of God which is God’s Church.  This mission of a priest always is a mission to sanctify people in the power of Christ.  We are today united with Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist – through your hands Christ’s sacrifice will be offered sacramentally.
Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate.  In the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ.
We know that when you baptize you will bring men and women into the people of God.  You will be the instruments of God’s forgiveness in the sacrament of penance.  You will relieve and console the sick in anointing and celebrating the liturgy you will offer thanks and praise to God not only for yourselves but for the Church as well.
Above all remember that a priest is chosen from among the people of God and appointed to act for them in relation to God.
Finally, conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the bishop or your ordinary and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family and to lead them effectively, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, to God the Father.
Indeed, dear sisters and brothers, the one thing about the priesthood that we would take away today is our unity in being configured to Christ and allowing His grace to touch us and lead us and inspire us along the journey to draw many others to know and love of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.
+ Denis J. Hart,


Those ordained by Archbishop Denis Hart for the Archdiocese of Melbourne were Rev Andrew McCarter, Reverend Benneth Osuagwu, Reverend Jerome Santamaria, Reverend Kevin Williams.

Those ordained by Archbishop Denis Hart for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross were Reverend Neil Fryer, Reverend James Grant, Reverend Christopher Seton and Reverend Ramsay Williams.

In response to the request for unity with the Catholic Church by several groups of Anglicans, the Holy Father has made provision for those Anglicans with a Catholic heart who seek unity, to enter into full communion while maintaining much of the Anglican tradition and liturgy that is commensurate with Catholic belief.

To achieve this, the Holy Father has authorised the erection of an independent diocese within the boundaries of the Catholic Bishops Conference.

Within Australia this prophetic initiative in furthering the goal of Christian unity is known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. Anglicans and Catholics who have an Anglican background as well as Catholics with a family member who belong to the Ordinariate can be registered as a member. Of course any Catholic is welcome to worship and receive Communion in the Ordinariate and vice versa.

Part of the Holy Father’s vision in his quest for unity is that the priests of the Ordinariate and the local diocese should work alongside each other to grow God’s Kingdom and bring others to salvation.

What greater sign of this sharing the task can there be than for priests of the Archdiocese and the Ordinariate to be ordained side by side? One Church, one priesthood, one mission, but enriching the tapestry of the Catholic Church by our bringing our own liturgy and spirituality to be shared by all.

As Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, I wish to thank Archbishop Hart and Bishop Elliott for ordaining our candidates to the diaconate and priesthood on my behalf.

Today is a historic moment for the Church in Melbourne, unity is a step closer, and so we rejoice. Thank you all for being here and please continue to pray for us in our mission and ministry.

Bishop Peter J. Elliott

The Sacrament of Holy Orders has three levels: deacon, priest and bishop. The bishops are the direct successors of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. Through the apostolic succession, an unbroken line going back to Christ himself, the bishops give the sacrament of Orders by the laying on of hands and prayer. The bishop ordains deacons (those who serve) and priests (presbyters or elders). A group of bishops ordain another bishop.

Each sacrament of the Church gives grace, that is, the life, energy and power of God. Through grace the weak are made strong and empowered to serve others.

Like Baptism and Confirmation, the sacrament of Holy Orders imparts a permanent grace, the seal or character. This gift can never be taken away because it is the work of the Holy Spirit who is always faithful.

By Baptism and Confirmation, all Christ’s faithful are called to carry out his work in the world. But whenever God calls, He empowers, and then he sends Christians on a mission. From the People of God, these men have been called to be set apart for the mission of priestly ministry. They have already been ordained deacons.

Calling of the Candidates
After the Gospel of the Mass, the archbishop takes his place in front of the altar. The first moment of the Rite of Ordination is when the deacons are called by name. Each candidate answers “Present”. This is significant because it is the formal or public call of the Church, the real vocation to priesthood. It confirms and recognizes what each man has already experienced, an inner personal call, that inspired him to test his vocation and be formed and educated for priesthood in a seminary.

Presentation of the Candidates
The rector of the seminary presents the deacons for ordination to priesthood. He assures the archbishop that they have been found worthy.

Election by the Bishop and Consent of the Faithful
Advised by those who have trained these men for ministry, the archbishop formally chooses the candidates for this sacrament. The congregation expresses the consent of the People of God, thus completing the call of the Church.

The archbishop preaches on the ministerial priesthood, to which the candidates will be raised in the second Order, the Presbyterate. Jesus Christ is the one Priest who will act through and in these his priests of the New Covenant.

Examination of the Candidates
The candidates stand before the archbishop who asks them a series of questions about their duties and responsibilities as priests. The promises they make bind them to work with their bishop and to be faithful and trustworthy shepherds within the Church.

Promise of Obedience
After responding to the questions, each candidate kneels and places his joined hands within the archbishop’s hands. This is an ancient sign of obedience and fealty. Each candidate makes a promise of obedience either to the archbishop or to his own ordinary.

Invitation to Prayer
The archbishop stands and invites all present to pray for those who are about to be ordained. The deacon of the Mass calls on the congregation to kneel in prayer.

The candidates lie prostrate on the pavement before the altar. Prostration is a sign of total self-giving, of humility and abandonment to the grace of God. It is a vivid expression of their willingness to serve God’s People through the ministry of priesthood.

Litany of the Saints
While the candidates lie prostrate before the altar, the Litany of the Saints is chanted. With the rhythmic response, “pray for us”, the most prominent saints of the Church are invoked. The names of saints associated with the candidates and their ethnic backgrounds are included. The Litany brings those seeking to be ordained into the unseen company of the members of the Church who are already in heaven, into the communion of saints. Specific petitions for “these chosen men” conclude the Litany.

Laying on of Hands
We have come to the central and most sacred moments of the Rite of Ordination. Each candidate comes before the archbishop who lays his hands on the head in silence. The simple gesture of the laying on of hands is the essential matter, or sacred act of the sacrament. The laying on of hands is recorded in the Christian Scriptures, the New Testament, and reaches further back to an ancient Jewish gesture of blessing and divine empowerment.

The priests present associate themselves with the act of ordination by also laying their hands on the candidates as they kneel before the altar. Any other bishops present do not take part in this action because it symbolizes incorporation into the order of presbyters.

Prayer of Consecration
The archbishop now extends his hands and sings the prayer of consecration which contains the form, or specific words, of ordination to priesthood. Together with the laying on of hands, this is the essential moment of ordination. The words of the form are: “Almighty Father, grant to these servants of yours the dignity of the priesthood. Renew within them the Spirit of holiness. As co-workers with the order of bishops may they be faithful to the ministry they receive from you, Lord, God, and be to others models of right conduct.”

The newly ordained priests stand and a series of symbolic ceremonies unfolds underlining the meaning of the permanent consecration and ministry they have just received.

Investiture with Stole and Chasuble
First they are dressed in the vestments that are worn by priests. The stole, that was worn diagonally when they were deacons, is now adjusted to hang equally on each side. The stole is a symbol that an ordained man has authority to minister the sacraments of Christ and to preach in the name of the Church.

Above the stole they receive the priestly vestment, the chasuble. This gracious garment symbolizes charity, the love of God which covers all things. Priests and bishops wear the chasuble whenever they celebrate Mass. Its origins go back to the first centuries of Christianity. In the Greco-Roman world it was a gentleman’s formal outer garment.

Anointing of the Hands
Having been vested, one by one, the newly ordained priests come to the archbishop and kneel before him. He anoints the palms of their hands with Holy Chrism. This is the most sacred oil of the Catholic Church, the fragrant “oil of gladness”, the oil for consecrating priests, prophets and kings. Because their hands are consecrated for the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice and ministering sacraments, the archbishop says: “The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.”

The Presentation of the Gifts
The new priests then return to the archbishop who places bread on a paten and wine in a chalice in their consecrated hands. This handing over of the offerings that will be consecrated in the Mass symbolizes the power they have received to offer the Mass, which is the same Sacrifice as the Cross in a sacramental form. The archbishop says: “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.”

Sign of Peace
They approach the archbishop for a third time to receive the sign of peace, which is also a welcome into the community of priests, the presbyterium. All the bishops and priests present come forward to give them this warm sign of brotherhood and solidarity. Now that they have been raised to share in the ministerial priesthood, they will be supported in their ministry by other clergy. They will also be inspired and upheld by God’s People, wherever they are sent to serve.

The Mass of Ordination continues. The newly ordained priests celebrate the Holy Eucharist for the first time, concelebrating with the archbishop, the bishops and priests. As sacrificing priests of the New Covenant, for the first time they will say the words of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, “This is my Body…this is the chalice of my Blood”. In that sacred moment they act in the Person of Christ. They identify with him for the sake of their people. He has called them to lead and sanctify, to reconcile and serve these people through word and sacrament.

First Blessings
At the conclusion of the Mass of Ordination the new priests return to the sanctuary to give their first blessings to parents, family and friends. This is a moving experience for these men. A new journey in life begins when they bless those who are dearest to them.
They know that now they stand in a radically different relationship with others, even their own kith and kin. If they have been set apart, this is so that they can be closer to others, but as priests. They have undertaken great responsibilities and much will be expected of them, and rightly so. Yet, as frail human beings like the rest of us, they will sustained day by day by God’s grace in a life of prayer and joyful service

Photos by Casamento Photography for Kairos Catholic Journal. Copyright 2012 Kairos Catholic Journal.

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