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ORDINATIONS 2016: Ordained as priests after the heart of Christ


Five young deacons, from left to right, David Adan Ramirez Nieves (Colombia), Giovanni Raffaele (Italy), Jerome Truc Ba Nguyen (Vietnam), Rodrigo Da Costa Ponte (Brazil) and Matthew Hodgson (Australia), were ordained to the priesthood at St Mary’s Cathedral on 4 March 2016. Photo: Mark Baumgarten

By Marco Ceccarelli

The richness and beauty of what took place within St Mary’s Cathedral on the evening of 4 March 2016 was only matched by the festive mood felt by hundreds of people in the aftermath of a great and memorable event for the Archdiocese.

Five young deacons from five different countries were ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Costelloe SDB as more than a thousand visitors, including friends and family who had travelled from interstate and overseas, watched on in support.

Also present on this important occasion were Auxiliary Bishop of Perth Donald Sproxton, Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders, Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey and the rectors of the seminaries where the young men have been formed.

Rodrigo Da Costa Ponte (Brazil), Matthew Hodgson (Australia), Jerome Truc Ba Nguyen (Vietnam), Giovanni Raffaele (Italy) and David Adan Ramirez Nieves (Colombia) responded “I do” throughout the Promise of the Elect, thus committing themselves to the office of priesthood and to the celebration of the mysteries of Christ.

The five then laid prostrate on the sanctuary floor before the soul-stirring litany of saints echoed throughout the Cathedral.

In his homily, Archbishop Costelloe made reference to the second reading of the celebration (2 Corinthians 4:1-2. 5-7), in which St Paul wrote that “we are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us”.

The Archbishop explained that the treasure is our faith and made a connection between our responsibility to hold firm to this faith and the ministry of the newly ordained priests.

“This gift of faith is delicate and fragile, held as it is within our own hearts. We are, at one and the same time, people who are and want to be people of faith, really trusting in the Lord's presence in our lives, and yet also people who are so easily lured away from our faith by so many other things which can push God aside… for that reason, God gives us these men to walk with us.”

The Archbishop emphasised that the young men have been tasked with leading the people of God through their preaching and teaching, through the administering of sacraments, and through service at the Lord's sacrificial table. However, he also explained that their ministry is highly dependent on the people of God carrying and safeguarding their ‘treasure’.

“If we all hold the gift of faith as a treasure in earthenware jars, these men will carry the gift of their priestly identity and mission also within the earthenware jars of their own fragile humanity,” the Archbishop said.

Referring to the Jubilee Year of Mercy opened by Pope Francis on 8 December 2015, Archbishop Costelloe quoted from the Pope in an effort to explain what constitutes a “good” shepherd.

“A priest who does not know he is a sinner will never be an effective instrument of the Lord's merciful compassion. If he does not know and feel how much he needs God's mercy, he will never be able to really understand or embrace the suffering of the people he serves.”

He then spoke directly to the newly ordained priests, urging them to never cease the pursuit of Jesus Christ in their lives.

“I ask you, Matthew, Rodrigo, Truc, Giovanni and David, to be priests after the heart of Jesus… Be priests in whose eyes, and in whose smiles, and in whose words, and in whose tears, people encounter the face and the heart of Jesus.

“Be priests who are living instruments and ministers of Jesus' compassion, of His mercy, of His patience, of His forgiveness and of His love. This is what the Lord is asking of you as He draws you tonight into the mystery of the ordained ministry as priests. It is what we, the People of God, so desperately need from you.”

Before the final blessing, Fr Matthew Hodgson spoke on behalf of the newly ordained priests, thanking all those who had made their ordination to the priesthood possible.

All those present were later invited for refreshments and the cutting of the cake in the Cathedral function room.