The ordination of David Connor on 14 June at St. Columba’s Cathedral, Oban was a lovely, warm and uplifting diocesan occasion. The Cathedral was full for the service, presided over by Bishop Toal, with Bishop Emeritus Murray also present, together with a large number of priests from across the Diocese and from other Dioceses, as well as many of David’s family and friends, and his colleagues from the Diocesan Choir. Before Mass started, the Choir presented David with a gift to mark his ordination, and also gave his sister a bouquet of flowers.
The choir sang as the congregation gathered, then the Mass began with “Praise my Soul the King of Heaven”, a wonderful welcoming hymn, as the clergy processed to the sanctuary. It was followed by the Russian Kyrie and the new text setting of the Peter Jones Gloria.
The readings were Isaiah 61:1-3; Corinthians 12:31-13:8, and Matthew 9:9 (probably the shortest reading many present had heard – the calling of Matthew). The psalm was Ps. 89 (in the setting written by Ronan McDonagh for Maynooth College, where David had finished his studies) and the Gospel acclamation was the one used for the Bellahouston Mass in 2010.
After the rite of Election of the Candidate, Bishop Toal in his homily focussed on the call to which David had responded after serious consideration – the call to preach the Gospel, sustain God’s people and celebrate the Liturgy. As priest, David should allow his life to be moulded and guided by the Lord, and prayer would be the foundation of his life. Love would imbue all he did as a priest. He was called to serve the whole church with generosity of spirit and to serve those of other faiths. The central point of the Church’s life was the celebration of the Sacraments, and he was called, particularly with his musical talents, to be an example and to help his people grasp the depths of the Liturgy. He would be supported by the love and prayer of his community, so many of whom were present for his ordination. This communion of love was God’s gift to his people in the Holy Spirit.
The Rite of Ordination now followed and, as David was vested with stole and chasuble, and his hands were anointed, congregation and clergy joined in singing the traditional hymn of invocation of the Holy Spirit, “Veni Creator Spiritus”.
The gifts of bread and wine were then brought to the altar and handed by Bishop Toal to Fr. David and, in a very emotional and lovely ceremony, all the priests present offered him the sign of peace. There was spontaneous applause as Fr. Sandy Culley, his parish priest and mentor embraced him with obvious joy.
As befitted such a celebration, the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Agnus Dei were sung ( in the setting by Liam Lawton). The Communion hymns were familiar favourites, several with memories of the Papal visit (including “Take & Eat” and “Lord, I give my Life to You”)
Bishop Toal concluded the Mass with a solemn sung blessing. Then the choir led the congregation in singing “Go to the World” for the Recessional Procession before the celebrations moved out to the Argyllshire Gathering Halls.
Fr. David’s First Mass took place the following day in his own Parish of St. Mun’s in Dunoon. The church was packed for the occasion with family, friends, fellow priest and parishioners. A number of the Diocesan Choir had also made the journey to lend musical support.
The opening hymn “Hail Redeemer” truly set the tone as everyone joined in with joy and enthusiasm. It was followed by the Bellahouston Gloria. The readings were very appropriate- Jeremiah 1 (the commissioning of the prophet), the Canticle from Ephesians 1; and John 15 (the commissioning of the Apostles to go and bear fruit), with the Psalm 23.
Fr. Culley referred to the Gospel in his homily and pointed out that there is a world of difference between an acquaintance and a friend – and he was proud of Fr. David who was a friend. He commented that the knowledge that he had acquired in his years of study would be useless without a loving relationship with the Lord. Fr. David had this and a non-nonsense faith. Turning to the Gospel, he challenged all present to go forth and live the Gospel and he ended with the words of Micah printed on the back of the Order of Service “This is what Yahweh asks of you………”
The sense of joy continued throughout the Mass as the congregation and clergy prayed and sang. At the end, before the Recessional Hymn, David Small, on behalf of the parish, congratulated Fr. David and referred to the various challenges he had had to face on his journey to ordination. He also recalled the most memorable moment of his Diaconate when, despite the havoc caused by the wind at Bellahouston, Fr. David had sung the Gospel without faltering, and made his parish immensely proud.
Two retired former teachers then presented Fr. David with a gift from the Parish to mark his ordination, and also gave presentations to his sister Ann and to Fr. Michael Hutson who had been principally responsible for organising the ordination Liturgy.
In a very emotional speech, Fr. David thanked everyone who had helped him to reach this day and in particular his late parents who had handed on to him the gift of faith. The applause which greeted his thanks showed the depth of affection for him from his parish, and the exuberant final hymn “City of God” seemed so appropriate to end the service.