Yesterday I went to the most delightful priestly ordination. It was the ordination of a man who was previously an Anglican priest at a church within the geographical area of my deanery. Having been received into the Catholic Church in my own parish, Fr Keith moved to a neighbouring parish where he threw himself into serving his new community.
He was soon adored by all who came across him, I can say with my hand on my heart I have heard not one bad word about him. His self giving is noted by all who come across him. The ordination yesterday was a triumph for the parish. It was delightful how his new community pulled together to provide the best for him, what a delight to see the children of the local primary school turn out on a Saturday, in school uniform, to sing. He has been exceedingly supportive of the school and they were delighted to pay back something to him.
Archbishop Peter was the celebrant and his homily, as ever, was a triumph. He reminded all the clergy there how we are to serve, not be served, and that a ‘grumpy shepherd’ is no use to anyone. This reminded me of a priest who came to my home parish to supply when I was an altar server. He was annoyed there were no delicious brocade chasubles to be had and he had to say Mass in a very basic vestment. Our sacristan, who was no-nonsense personified, asked him, quite gently, “in which Gospel, canonical or apocryphal does Jesus say ‘wear finery?’”
This comment of Archbishop Peter’s also made me sit up and think on. (mea maxima culpa)
Later in the hall talking to parishioners it was clear that Fr Keith and his family, who have quietly yet effectively supported him and the parish, were all much loved by their community. It was also very nice that in spite of having his friends and family deacon and sing at the Mass, as they should, the community were central to the celebrations, and they were out in force in not the jolliest of weathers.
It was clear from the family the parish are to be served, not serve, and the parish will relish supporting and serving where possible in return. It was a privilege and a joy to see.