There was a wonderful, joyful feeling in St. Andrew’s Cathedral on the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist (24 June) as people gathered for the ordination to the priesthood of Stuart Reynolds. A substantial number of priests from the Diocese and some of his classmates from the seminary at Maynooth joined Archbishop Tartaglia and Archbishop Emeritus Conti to support the ordinand. The music of the liturgy was led by the St. Mungo Singers. Before the service began, Dr. Noel Donnelly provided music on the clarsach, and the choir sang a number of motets. The clergy then processed into the Cathedral to the singing of “Grace to you and Peace”, followed by the Benedictus, so appropriate for this day when the birth of John the Baptist was remembered.
After the Liturgy of the Word, the Rite of Ordination began with the calling and presentation of the candidate to the Archbishop. In his address to candidate and congregation which followed, Archbishop Tartaglia reminded everyone of the duties and the demands made of a priest, recalling not only the words of Pope Francis on the need for a priest to “smell of the sheep” but also John the Baptist’s understanding of his role – to decrease so that Christ might increase.
The atmosphere in the Cathedral was now one of quiet focus and prayer as the candidate confirmed his willingness to undertake the priestly office and to give respect and obedience to his bishop. He then prostrated himself before the altar and a cantor led the congregation and clergy in the singing of the Litany of Saints. This was followed by the laying on of hands, firstly by the Archbishop and then by each priest present. The Archbishop then pronounced the prayer of consecration – the central part of the Rite – over the candidate. As the people sang the invocation to the Holy Spirit “Come Holy Ghost”, Fr. Stuart was vested in stole and chasuble and his hands were anointed.
Fr. Stuart’s family now brought up the bread and wine for the Eucharist and these were presented by the Archbishop to him, with an instruction to him to model is life on the mystery of the Cross. Archbishop Tartaglia then gave him the sign of peace and, in another expressive symbolic action of solidarity, each of the priests present came forward to do the same.
At the end of the Mass, the Archbishop expressed his thanks to all who had made this celebration possible in the widest sense – from family, friends, teachers, priests, to the Cathedral community and the choir. In particular he thanked people for their full and active participation in the liturgy which had made it memorable.
The clergy processed out of the Cathedral to the singing of the Magnificat then Fr. Stuart came back to give his first blessing to members of his family and to be greeted by friends and parishioners from his parish of St. Brigid’s Toryglen. The celebration was rounded off beautifully in the Eyre Hall with the provision of a finger buffet which gave the congregation an opportunity to chat.