Argyll & the Isles gathered joyfully in Oban on the Feast of St. Thomas for the ordination to the priesthood of Rev. Anthony Wood, a native of Stoke-on-Trent, of Polish descent, who had been adopted by St. Kieran’s Campbeltown, and who was being ordained for the Diocese after his studies at the Beda College in Rome. Family and friends from Stoke and Campbeltown, as well as Fr. John Breen, Dean of Studies at Beda, had travelled to Oban to be present for the occasion.
The principal celebrant was Bishop Joseph Toal and he was joined by Bishop Emeritus Ian Murray and priests from throughout the Diocese. The music of the liturgy was led and supported by the Diocesan choir under Fr. Michael Hutson. The service began with the joyful processional “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”. The readings were those of the Feast of St. Thomas (Jer. 1:4-9; Eph.2: 19-22 and John 20:24-29). The psalm 23 “Such are the men who seek your Face” was sung by cantor Tony Lappin.
After the beginning of the Rite of Ordination, with the calling of the candidate, Bishop Toal addressed the congregation. He invited them to reflect on the mystery of the priesthood. All baptised Christians participate in the priesthood of Christ but the priest is called to do so in a further way. He is to be Christ to others through his preaching, the celebration of the sacraments and his life of service. As St. Paul says in the reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, Fr. Anthony has, like each of us, a specific part to play in the building of the house of God. Bishop Toal finished with the invocation, in this 1450th anniversary of the arrival of St. Columba on Iona, of the protection of St. Columba and his successors on Fr. Anthony.
As the Rite of Ordination continued, the help of all the saints was invoked now with the singing of the Litany of the Saints led by sisters Catherine McGhee Clarke & Ann Marie McGhee Campbell, as the candidate prostrated himself before the altar. The help and presence of the Holy Spirit was also sought as congregation and choir sang the plainchant “Veni Creator” as the final part of the ordination rite was completed with the investiture of the newly ordained priest with the stole and chasuble and the anointing of his hands.
Later as the Kiss of Peace was exchanged with Fr. Anthony by the Bishops and all the priests present, Polish members of the congregation sang in Polish the first verse of “Lord, You have come to the seashore” (a favourite hymn of the late Blessed John Paul II) in acknowledgement of Fr. Anthony’s Polish family links, before the congregation continued this very appropriate hymn.
After the final hymn, “Go to the World” – a reminder of the common priesthood of the baptised as well as a particular reference to the vocation of the newly ordained – Fr. Anthony gave his individual blessing to family members and friends before the congregation went with joyful hearts to celebrate in the Cathedral Hall, thanks to the hospitality of the Cathedral community.