|Priest ordained at Youth Assembly closing Mass - Aug 2|
|2009 - Caribbean Church News|
|Friday, 31 July 2009 17:12|
Sacrifice and "martyrdom" are two essential elements of any Christian vocation, says the president of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Donald Reece of Kingston.
Archbishop Reece was the homilist and main celebrant at the closing Mass of the AEC's Caribbean Youth Assembly at Jamaica's National Arena. During the special liturgy, Rev Roger Graham was ordained a priest.
Archbishop Reece told the gathering of Caribbean Catholic youth, regional clergy and his brother bishops and archbishops, that a vocation to the priesthood may seem daunting and challenging, especially in today's world where there are "so many worldly attractions that promise you unending happiness and fulfilment, but which are ultimately unattainable".
He added that Church scandals worldwide "cause the mind of youth to become sceptical and even cynical". He pointed out however that youth are known for accepting daunting challenges "to bring about something marvellous and awe-inspiring".
Focussing on sacrifice, the archbishop said Christians are called to follow Christ "by some form of renunciation which paradoxically enriches us in the process".
Archbishop Donald Reece of Kinston, Jamaica lays hands on Rev Roger Graham during the rite of priestly ordination on July 19.
"Sacrifice is expected of all those who follow Christ; the ordained priesthood is but a potent reminder to the faithful, the Body of Christ, of that mysterious and fundamental reality of Christian living."
He said one of the reasons for the shortage of priests is because of the loss of a sense of sacrifice, an essential aspect of human existence.
"All of us are who we are, because of sacrifice. Our parents sacrificed, that is, they gave up something—be it something material or an ambition—for the sake of a higher cause, namely our own education and spiritual formation".
The archbishop said sacrifice is rooted in love and Christ’s sacrifice is the model of all such sacrificial love.
He explained that martyrdom should not only be seen as physical death for the Christian faith, but a dying to self, be it psychological or emotional.
"Within this context, a Catholic priest is called to witness to Christ and his values in today’s world; in so doing he is a reminder to the entire Church that all are called to martyrdom, to witness. Because the proclamation of the Word might go contrary to aspects of our culture that are against Christian values.
"Therefore, the effectiveness of the proclamation of the Word in which Father Roger will be engaged must be related to his continuous growth in faith which demands a daily conformity to Christ the High Priest and priestly holiness that is the work of the Spirit. That unity or conformity with Christ and holiness of life will give credence to the words proclaimed".
The archbishop also urged the soon-to-be-ordained priest to seek out his brother priests for support during his priestly life. The priest, Archbishop Reece said, is not called to be a soloist. "He is called into the company of 'Word-proclaimers and Bread-breakers,' much like Christ’s band of disciples who bonded to work for the kingdom of God.
"No matter how consoling other people’s company may be, there is something special about the band of Christ’s priests. Once a priest distances himself from this symphony of his fellow-priests and becomes a 'soloist', he may well be entering upon another road or another quest that is fraught with individualism and other trademarks that compromise the priesthood".
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