ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD
IN THE SERVICE ARCHDIOCESE OF DUBLIN
OF CHRISTOPHER DERWIN AND PAUL GLENNON
Homily notes of
Most Reverend Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
Pro-Cathedral, 3rd June 2015, Feast of Saint Kevin
On this Feast of Saint Kevin, Principal Co-Patron of the Archdiocese of Dublin, we gather as a diocesan family with joy to call the Holy Spirit on these two deacons, Christopher Derwin and Paul Glennon, who are called to be ordained priests in the service of the Archdiocese of Dublin.
It is fitting that we are surrounded by a large representation of the presbyterate: the Auxiliary Bishops, the Vicar General, the Members of the Metropolitan Chapter and many priests who exercise a variety of ministries in our local Church. We welcome representatives of Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth who have been responsible for the formation of the new priests, alongside Father Liam Rigney.
I greet in a special way the members of the families of both candidates and their friends and those with whom they have studied and worked. I am pleased that representatives of the Emmanuel Community are with us to accompany Paul Glennon who has been particularly inspired by the spirituality of that community. I greet representatives of the parishes where the two deacons have ministered over the years. I greet our Dublin seminarians and our permanent deacons.
Priesthood is a gift for the building up of the Church. It is not a personal privilege or some form of social recognition. Priesthood is never mine and mine alone. Priesthood is an office within a Church of communion, the communion of the believers in Jesus Christ and within the communion of the presbyterate with the Bishop. The rite of ordination makes this communion among priests visible in that each priest here present imposes hands on the candidates with the bishop and gathers around the bishop in the prayer consecration. The priest is never a freelance spiritual agent, but always exercises his ministry in communion with the entire presbyterate. Eucharistic ministry is at the heart of priestly ministry; Eucharist generates communion. Priestly ministry must be exercised within communion. That is the deeper meaning of our working together in ministry.
Chris and Paul: you received your faith at your baptism within that community of believers in Jesus Christ. The community of faith has nurtured you. Never forget that you would never have arrived at this day without the prayers of many. God’s people care for their priests and pray for their priests. You are and always will be indebted to that community of faith and you will exercise new ministry as service within that communion, just as you will receive support from the community in which you minster.
Reflecting on the nature of priesthood, Pope Benedict stressed it is however Jesus himself who is always the One who gives and who draws us to himself.
“Jesus alone can say: “This is my Body… this is my Blood”. The mystery of the priesthood of the Church lies in the fact that we, miserable human beings, by virtue of the Sacrament, can speak in persona Christi. Jesus wishes to exercise his priesthood through us”.
Jesus wishes to exercise his priesthood through you. This is a daunting thought. Priesthood is not a matter of doing a job. It is a matter of identification with Jesus. There is no way in which you can be a true minister of the priesthood of Jesus without having a loving relationship with Jesus. There are many things to do in the busy life of a priest today. But we can easily become so busy in doing things, that we fail in what is central. We can make ourselves happy through doing things, but end up burnt out and empty hearted.
Activism by itself can be a mark of great generosity but it can also be a way of thinking that we are at the centre of our priesthood. Action becomes fruitless if all we have to offer is the frenetic accomplishments of ourselves. We may think that we are doing well and are liked by all. People turn to a priest not to know about him, but to know about Jesus Christ. The priest is called to deepen the message of love and hope which springs from our own personal faith in Jesus Christ as a way of guiding others to Him, who is the way the truth and the life. If we do not take the time to know Jesus, through reflection on the word of God and through prayer, then we will never be ministers of Christ’s priesthood, but to the emptiness and confusion of our own hearts.
Our life of personal prayer is not something that can be separated from our pastoral activity. It is our prayer which gives us what we can offer others. People know a priest who is a man of prayer and they come to him to encounter a Gospel wisdom which is not available elsewhere in pastoral activity.
Dear Chris and dear Paul, when we pray in the prayer of priestly consecration later in this liturgy we pray that, as the Lord God will grant you the dignity of the priesthood, you will also be renewed in the spirit of holiness and become models of right conduct for all. We will pray especially that you may always be faithful to the ministry which you will receive.
The sign of the imposition of hands is a sign of the Lord taking hold of you and telling you that from now forward you belong to him. It is also a sign that while the Lord is taking you in his hands he will also be your strength. Let me quote Pope Benedict once more. He reminds you that Jesus is saying to you:
“You are under the protection of my hands. You are under the protection of my heart. You are kept safely in the palm of my hands, and this is precisely how you find yourself in the immensity of my love. Stay in my hands, and give me yours”.
Being a priest means becoming an ever closer friend of Jesus Christ with the whole of our existence. This is our priestly call: only in this way can our action as priests bear fruit. How can we be friends of Jesus? Jesus has no need to have the disciples as his friend. The disciples are his friends and we are his friends only because he has chosen and called us.
We talk of a crisis in vocations. How do we say to a young man in today’s world that being a priest is a worthwhile vocation, that it is worth the effort of renouncing many aspects of life and giving oneself totally to the Lord? One answer is visible here in the faces and in the ministry of the priests of this diocese. We are blessed with good priests. The Lord knows their hearts and he knows the hearts that they have quietly touched during the course of their ministry. There is nothing so wonderful as to talk to others about what Jesus means to us and to lead others to the joy that the Gospel can bring to their lives.
Priests know especially what the Eucharist means to them and for them. They understand the daunting challenge of having the power to speak in the name of Jesus and knowing that that power changes the reality of their own lives and the lives of so many.
Chris and Paul being a priest is not easy. It is possible to become unsettled and anxious; it is possible to become cynical or resigned. If you remain deeply in the love of Jesus however “your joy will be complete” and your ministry will bring you deep contentment.
The world needs to know God. The world needs to know the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ. The central message of our faith is that God is love. It is God who loves us first and unconditionally. He is the one who reconciled us through Christ, we heard in our first reading, and he gives us the work of handing on that reconciliation. Chris and Paul: in your ministry model yourself on Jesus as he calls you day by day to be ministers of his priesthood.
May all of us, God’s holy people, continue to hold these new priests in the hands of our faith and prayerful support from this day forth.