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Reflections of a newly ordained Sydney priest

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 Contents - Sep 2009AD2000 September 2009 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: 2009 Fighting Fund launched - Peter Westmore
USA: Anglicans fragmenting over homosexuality - Babette Francis
News: The Church Around the World
Christian Life: Courage and EnCourage: a chaste lifestyle for the same-sex attracted - Marie Mason
Liturgical Books: The case for a new Missal translation - Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
Campus Life: Brisbane hosts 2009 Australian Catholic Student Association Conference - Br Barry Coldrey
Priesthood: Reflections of a newly ordained Sydney priest - Fr James Mccarthy
FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH: Sola Fide (by Faith Alone): is this sufficient for salvation? - Frank Mobbs
The Reformation and England's changing Coronation Oath - Tom Johnstone
Letters: Galileo - David Walker
Letters: Ambiguities in Vatican II? - George Simpson
Letters: Women priests - Name and Address Supplied
Letters: Abortion evil - Diana E. Fox
Letters: Ultrasound - Anne Lastman
Letters: Religious freedom at risk - Tim Rebbechi
Books: JOHN GERARD: Autobiography of an Elizabethan, trans. By Philip Caraman SJ - Michael E. Daniel (reviewer)
Letters: Latin Course for Fluency
Books: DOVE DESCENDING: A Journey into T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, by Thomas Howard - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Books: THE BOOK OF ALL SAINTS, by Adrienne von Speyr - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Poetry: 11 September, 2001: The Towers - Will Elsin
Books: DEIFICATION AND GRACE, by Daniel Keating - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Books: This month's selection from AD Books
Reflection: The centrality of the tabernacle - Bishop John M. D'Arcy

The Easter season is a time for celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. Additionally in many places in the Catholic world, the Easter Season is the time when celebrations of Ordinations often occur. In fact, on the fourth Sunday of Easter, on 3 May, the Holy Father ordained 19 men as priests for the Diocese of Rome.

Three days earlier, on Thursday, 30 April, in Sydney, Australia, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, ordained four men to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, the largest Ordination for Sydney since 1988. This was particularly significant for me as I returned home to Sydney from Rome, where I am currently studying, to be ordained as one of the four.

The Ordination was a magnificent celebration of the presence of the Catholic Church in Australia, with over 3,000 in attendance at Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral.

As a 27-year-old recently ordained priest, I am greatly consoled by the fact that throughout the world, the number of men ordained every year is continuing to rise, as is the number of men who are entering seminaries.

Unique vocation

The priesthood is a unique vocation, and it is unlike any career or profession. When I answered the call to enter into formation for the priesthood, I was studying History and Politics at the University of Sydney. It was in the context of a secular public university that I heard the call to serve God, the Church and our world as a priest.

Since the Ordination, I have been delighted by the love, joy and support that the faithful have shown towards me and it is clear to me that Catholics value the vocation, witness and ministry of priests. However, I was most pleasantly surprised by the support shown by many in our society, especially by people who are not Catholics.

Often in Australia, as in other places, faith is incorrectly described as a personal or private concern. The presence at the Ordination in Sydney of over 30 politicians from all forms of government in Australia, including the Governor of the State, and more than 40 judges and many people involved in public life, was a sign that the ministry of the Church and the priesthood is a public concern and public support and recognition is appropriate.

Furthermore, the large number of representatives of different Ecclesial communities and other faiths was another sign of the desire for unity in our world. The priesthood is not of this world, but the priesthood is in this world and it affects our world in a variety of ways.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Homily for the Presbyteral Ordinations in Rome on 3 May, commented that the priest is in the world, but "we run the risk of also being 'of the world'". I was drawn towards the priesthood not only because of the priest's role in the Church, but because of the important contribution which priests make to our world, through serving our society and helping to make our communities, with the grace of God, into a more perfect reflection of the Heavenly Kingdom.

Catholic priests appear to spend most of their days serving Catholics, but the role and mission of the priest includes the service of all of humanity.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 22 No 8 (September 2009), p. 9

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