It was a joyful occasion at St. Andrew’s Cathedral for the ordination to the priesthood of Deacon Jim Dean on the Vigil of Sts. Peter & Paul. The gathering congregation of family, friends and parishioners was greeted with music from the St. Mungo Singers and Dr. Noel Donnelly on clarsach. This included Dan Schutte’s Ever on My Lips, Dr. Donnelly’s new Introit The Love of God is Poured into our Hearts and Mgr Fitzpatrick’s new piece Like the Deer, which set the tone of celebration.
The Mass began with the Pauline Greeting Grace to You and Peace leading into Patrick Lee’s hymn to Sts. Peter & Paul (Into a World of Darkness), as Archbishop Tartaglia, Archbishop Emeritus Conti, the priests of the Diocese and Deacon Jim processed to the sanctuary.
As the Ordination Rite began, Archbishop Tartaglia expressed his delight at being present at this ordination. While all God’s holy people are priests in Christ, he reminded us that the Lord chose special ones to be sent out as priests, teachers and shepherds, as well as co-workers with their bishops in the service of the people of God.
Deacon Jim had been a permanent deacon for 8 years and would now be consecrated to preach the Gospel and celebrate the Liturgy, especially the Lord’s Supper. Reminding the congregation of the Gospel passage read shortly before – John 21:15-19 – he reflected that Jesus’ words to Peter provided the points of the compass for a priest – the love of Christ and the care for His flock.
To soon-to-be Fr. Jim now belonged the duty of teaching what he believed and practising what he preached, to build up the church and sanctify it through the Eucharist and the other sacraments. From here on, he should be attentive to the concerns of Jesus Christ, not his own, and follow the example of the Good Shepherd.
The rite of ordination was, as ever, moving and inspiring, with the invocation of the mercy of God and the intercession of the saints through the sung Litany led by a cantor, the laying on of hands and consecration of the new priest and his vesting while the choir sang the lovely prayer of St. Richard of Chichester Day by Day (surely an appropriate prayer for a new priest with its request for three things only – to see the Lord more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly). The rite ended with the anointing of Fr. Jim’s hands to the service of the Lord.
The gifts of bread and wine were then presented to Fr. Jim by the Archbishop. This was followed by the lovely moment in which the Kiss of Peace is given to the new priest by the Archbishop and all the priests present. The Mass then continued in the usual way, but not quite as there was a sense of real celebration of this important event, not only in Fr. Jim’s life but also that of the Diocese.